“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
We can all remember a time when this question was fun. It was often paired with naming your favorite color and favorite food. You just knew that you were going to be a baker. Or an artist. Or a fireman.
It was all fun and exciting… until it wasn’t.
One day, that question went from cute to stressful, because all of a sudden you were going off to college and had to choose something. A life expectancy of nearly 80 years, and you have to choose one thing. One major. One area to specialize in. For most of us, this task is daunting.
If your dreams are to become a nurse, a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer, you might not know the struggle. You have been praised constantly for your choice. A choice that will lead to a good job and an even better paycheck. You have chosen something that will make your parents proud, and strangers will nod in approval when they learn of your studies. You are the person that people like me wish they could be like. But we can’t.
We don’t love those things. Even if we are capable of getting through organic chemistry or calculus III, why would we want to? To pursue a degree that everyone tells us will be successful? Our entire lives, math and science have been so entirely emphasized that creativity and the arts have taken a back seat to the point that they feel unimportant. Where did this come from?
We constantly have to see people’s pursed lips and double takes after telling them that our major is creative writing or art history. People constantly ask us, "What are you planning to do with that?” They wonder why someone would choose such an empty major.
But without us, the world would be less beautiful and a lot less extraordinary.
If someone fails a math class, they're seen as dumber or lazier than everyone else. But if someone fails an art class? “Oh, it’s not like you need that class, anyway.”
College has gone from being a place of learning and education to a place of job preparation. Never before has college merely been four years of jumping through hoops in order to obtain a stamp of approval to show your future employers. College students used to be the ones who learned how to speak impeccable English, the ones who provided society with new inventions, ideas and innovations.
Now, college has turned into glorified high school with students who have been sculpted by the system, and guess who doesn’t fit into the system like everything else? Us. The arts and humanities programs at colleges are slowly becoming neglected, therefore sapping the education of those of us who choose to do what we love, instead of what will make us the most money.
I'm tired of being condemned for choosing to spend my life being happy and creating beautiful things instead of chasing fortune. Just because we don’t know the exact job title we will have the second we're handed our college degree doesn’t mean we are failures. Even if society and the people around us make us feel that way sometimes.
I could never be a lawyer, but I will argue in favor of creativity for as long as I live.