“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
When we were kids, we were often asked this question. Some of the more common answers might have included: a racecar driver, a ballerina, a firefighter, or maybe even Superman. At the time, any answer was acceptable; furthermore, the adult who asked you the question would have given you a high five and encouraged you to shoot for the stars. That adult was simply excited to see that you were so eager and enthusiastic about something. This was your first spark of unabashed passion. Little did you know, this admiration and support was all too temporary.
Suddenly, you’re 18 years old. You’re a senior in high school, and you’re about to be bombarded by that very same question which was so fun and easy to answer when you were a kid. However, practicality has conditioned you over the years to think carefully before responding with what you truly want to be when you grow up. Because this time, the expectations are a little different. This time, your answer better come with a fat paycheck, and you better know exactly what your projected yearly salary is going to be. This time, you better know how many years it will take you to pay off your student loans, and it better be in a timely fashion. This time, you better have a detailed plan for the rest of your life, and that better involve being able to facilitate at least two kids and a picturesque lake house. This time, you better be practical.
Over the course of this past year, I found myself struggling with the inner-battle of passion vs. practicality. When I enrolled at Butler University, it was for one reason and one reason only: to become a pharmacist. For those of you who don’t attend Butler University, or for those of you that do and never have to worry about looking at your bill, tuition at Butler is $36,050 per year. After you factor in room and board and any other miscellaneous expenses, Butler is priced at approximately $52,615 per year. In the eyes of those asking the financial questions, it was only practical to attend such an expensive institution if I was going to graduate from Butler having attained a Pharm. D., make boatloads of money, and be able to afford that picturesque lake house.
So, I chose practicality, and after trudging my way through a year of the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum, I found myself lacking even a basic curiosity for what I was studying and the career path I was propelling myself into. I could not stomach the thought of spending one more year studying something that I was simply not interested in, let alone the idea of doing it for the rest of my life. If someone thought to once again ask that all-important question, “pharmacist” would be the furthest answer from my mind. I was miserable.
So, I did the unthinkable. This summer, as an emerging sophomore, I gave up my spot in Butler University’s nationally recognized Doctor of Pharmacy Program. Despite the immense cost, I will be returning to Butler University as a Strategic Communication and Interactive Media double major. I have found a passion for public relations, graphic design, and avenues for an interactive presence. I cannot wait to travel this new path, determined by my own passion.
Don’t get me wrong; this is not going to be all rainbows and butterflies. As mentioned, Butler University is quite the costly gig. But, after finding my passion on Butler’s campus, it is home to me, and I cannot imagine receiving my education anywhere else. I have to come to terms with the fact that I will graduate with a massive amount of student debt, and will likely struggle for years to pay it off. I will not be living a life of luxury, nor will that picturesque lake house have any place in my near future. However, I could not be more thankful to be relieved of the burden of pursuing a future merely for the sake of practicality. In the battle of passion vs. practicality, my heart spoke louder than my head. Passion won.
So, with some uncertainty in my future, I am hoping that the words of Robert Frost will ring true in my life:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”