I wake up at 6:30 A.M. I go to my classes from 8 AM-4:45 PM. I do my work in any time I have free. Then I head back to my room and switch on my laptop. But I don't sign on to Netflix or Hulu, instead I sign into my google docs. I click on my writing folder, turn on my Facetious Poet playlist, and let the inspiration flow.
I'm going to school for Business so that I can be an Actuary, but my real passion is in writing. I recently submitted some of my writing into the Button Poetry chapbook contest, and after I submitted it, I sat there feeling empty. What am I supposed to do now? Sure, I have homework, but all I want to do is write. I set aside this urgent emptiness, and begin to work on my tedious math homework.
Growing up, I always had certain beliefs sternly whispered into my ear. One of these would certainly stand out to me, and impact me for the rest of my life: "Don't make a career out of a hobby. Don't try to have a career in the arts, keep it as a side thing."
This seemed to be a resounding comment from everyone: teachers, friends, family. I heeded this, not seeing any flaw in the reasoning, and kept going down the STEM career path. But this is me now, telling you the truth of the matter.
I love math and science but have struggled with both at times. But writing? That always came naturally to me, and it was something that made me happy. But I have known too many people who pursued a career in the arts that now label themselves as a "sad, starving artist". I resolved to myself, and others around me, that that wouldn't be me. I would keep my passion on the side, only indulging myself in it when I was finished with what had to be done.
But now, as a (somewhat) independent college student, in a time of my life where I am able to really have my own opinions and decide what my fundamental beliefs are, I have realized that this is bull****.
This thinking is a clipping of the wings. It may not even be intentional, but it is definitely a societal standard created to deter you from standing out from the crowd. I'm not saying this in a conspiracy-theory way, but I definitely believe that people will try to hold you back, just so you won't be better than them, or rock the boat. Yes, I am still working to be an actuary, but I am also working really hard to try and become successful in my writing.
I know the people who say these things are doing it mainly out of concern. I have a loved one in my life who believes they'll make a career in rapping/making beats. I don't see this as a real feasible goal, but who am I to say that? Others might see my dream to be a successful writer in the same way, so how can I tell someone that their dream is like that? I think everyone needs tough love from time-to-time. But if you keep repeating the same discouraging phrases to someone, it becomes detrimental to the person's confidence.
I don't think there is really a right answer to this debacle between choosing a career in STEM or in the arts. But this is me, telling myself, and you, to choose your own path. Follow your dreams or don't, but don't try to stop others from chasing theirs. If you want a backup plan, that's fine. You can express concern for someone, but don't tell them they don't have the ability to succeed at something they love. We need to let go of this societal standard to be successful in a way that gives immediate satisfaction/immediate results. And if you doubt it, think about the great arts of the world. What would the world be like without Beethoven? Or Martin Luther King Jr.? Or Shakespeare? Or van Gogh? Our world would not be the way it is now, and who are we to decide that we know what will or won't impact our international culture?
Maybe it's time to let go of our expectations, and let people do what they want.