If you were to ask my eight-year-old self what I wanted to be when I was older, there wouldn’t be a pause before I shouted, “A writer!”
The collections of stories that were hoarded underneath my bed, printed out on computer paper and filled with plot-lines that were extremely similar to various Disney channel original movies (looking back I realize my real talent had just been being a savvy plagiarist) were pieces of me that made me who I was, and were the same pieces that made my father angry when he found out another ink cartridge had to be replaced yet again.
I was going to be a writer.
There was no quiz on the back of a J14 magazine that could tell me otherwise. I was astonished once when I took one of those and ended up with a prophecy that foretold my future as a “flight attendant” because I had answered mostly Bs rather than As or Cs.
Impossible, I thought. I was destined to have someone to read the words I had written someday. My stubbornness refused any tarot cards or any Magic 8-Balls that insisted otherwise.
So why was that same girl, almost ten years later, sitting on the phone with her mother inside a dimly lit a dorm room questioning something she had been so sure of her entire life?
For many of us who have found themselves on a track of liberal arts rather than STEM-related fields, it is typical to have heard some type of criticism for the choosing of our degree.
I’ve found the height of these to be found in party settings with nosey distant cousins that usually ask if I have a boyfriend first. After that dreaded question, I feel a sort of shame come on when asked my major. “Communications,” I tell them, as I brace myself for the rude curiosity that begs to know more.
“What are you going to do with that?” is a typical response heard just as often as, “Are you going to go to law school after your undergrad?”
Both my mother, sister, and brother had followed the STEM path - my brother, as much as I hate to give his already-big-ego a boost, followed the pre-med path, becoming a vet. When he was in undergrad as a biology major I had never once heard any follow up questions like the ones given to me.
I’m not here to prove why liberal arts majors are important. I’m not here to throw statistics at you that prove that I will land myself with a job. I’m not going to justify that a dream of a two car garage and a wrap around porch is, indeed, plausible for me. Because frankly, I’m not going to feel shameful about someone else’s perception of successes.
For those of you doubting me, I press you to exit this article and type in your questions about the legitimacy of liberal arts majors into your Google search engine. Or, you could save yourself some time and try, “Why is my life so unexciting and sad that I find myself immersed in the judgment of other people’s lives?”
Your mother on the other end of the line is correct: You’re going to be alright. And this isn’t because you chose to switch to business or teaching or because you stuck with that English major.
You’re going to be alright because your major does not determine where you will land. Your passion, your drive, your focus, and your ability to block out self-doubt and these criticisms will.
You cannot force yourself into a career that doesn’t reflect upon who you are.
I played six different sports throughout my adolescent career and I remember a girl from my soccer team laughed at me for quitting. The girl that ridiculed me for backing down? She absolutely hated the sport. Complained every single practice. That’s when I realized I shouldn’t be the one shamed, but she should. What a fool she was to commit herself to something she absolutely hated.
I hope you all get that two car garage. I hope you all throw a party and drink red wine on that wrap around porch with the people who believed in you all along. I hope you find days of ease that are never met with an echo inside of your head that says you should have or you could have.
I hope you believe in yourself, lost liberal arts major because I believe in you.