"What's your major?"
It's a question I hear nearly every single day as a college sophomore. Usually, I answer with a guarded response of "English," knowing that my liberal arts major will concern most people.
Nearly every time they'll ask, "What are you going to do with that?"
And every time I respond with the most honest answer I can think of: "I don't know."
This answer usually trips people up, because not knowing is scary. But I have a secret, no one can predict the future.
I knew that becoming an English major came with the risk of not knowing exactly where I'll end up after college, but that was ok because I still don't know what I'd like to do with my life.
When I was a kid, I loved to draw and thought that I wanted to be a cartoon artist. When I reached middle school, I saw the movie The Mummy for the first time and decided that I wanted to be an archaeologist. In high school, I loved volunteer work and wanted to be an activist. I wanted to be so many different things growing up that when I got to college and had to decide on one field to study for the rest of my life, I panicked. How can anybody decide what they want to do with their entire life in just four years?
When I started college, I was enrolled as a Sociology major because I thought that social work would fulfill my high school desires of being an activist. I learned fairly quickly during my first semester that Sociology was not the field for me. I didn't like degrading people into numbers and statistics, and I didn't want to spend the rest of my life working in an office. I wanted to be out in the world getting to know people and learning outside the walls of a cubicle.
Feeling like I had failed at finding my future, I did a little soul searching. What was something I loved, something that made me feel purposeful? I thought back to an AP Language and Composition class that I took my in junior year of high school and remembered how I loved being there every day. That's when it clicked that maybe English was the field for me. With English, I could study history, languages, art, political science, architecture, and all kinds of different subjects just by reading. With English, I felt engaged and interested in the material I was studying, and suddenly the future didn't seem so scary.
But even with a chosen major, I still have no idea what career I'm going to have after college. I'm a liberal arts student, which may mean that my future isn't predictable, but I'm honestly glad for that. I'm doing what I love, and I trust that as long as I invest in what makes my heart and soul happy, I'll find one way or another to make a living from it.
The future is scary because nothing is guaranteed. So do what you love, embrace the things in life that call out to you, and don't ever feel embarrassed about defending yourself against people who don't believe in you.
There will always be people who question your choices, especially ones that are different from theirs, but here's another secret, the only person who knows what's best for you, is you. Don't let fear hold you back. Pursue your dreams, follow your heart, and if people question your ambitions, embrace your passions knowing that they'll take you where you need to go.