How do you decide what to do with your life when you can’t even decide what you are going to do today? I am the classic indecisive; the full weight of a choice always leaves me convinced I made a mistake. As I grow up, though, the decisions are larger. It follows that the consequences are much more serious.
To me, deciding on my major means more than the courses or community I will experience for next four years. My choice of major will begin a path that will be harder and harder to escape once I begin. My mom tells me I’m being dramatic, and in a sense, she’s right: a group of classes shouldn’t define the overall arch of life. We’ve heard many times of successful and happy individuals pursuing careers and lifestyles wildly deviating from their majors. But we’ve also heard of the mistakes, the adults who hate their jobs, the wasted time and wasted money. In the face of conflicting messages, the “follow your passion” inhabiting the same sentence that bashes English majors and shoves you a list of highest paying jobs, what do we believe? Is my major a definition of myself, of my ‘calling’ and my morals, or is it an investment to be a marketable employee?
I enjoy science and math, but I don’t want a career in these fields, despite the numerous (seriously, numerous) amount of STEM campaigns; I give huge kudos to science and math majors but don’t believe they are the only smart option. I’m also not a business person, an artist, teacher or lawyer; likewise, I am not a slacker or fame-chaser. But as I think deeply about what I want to do with my life, what I want to study and dedicate my time to, I’m having a hard time separating passions, hobbies, job prospects, and societal messages. With all the buzz about smart choices, a return on our ‘investment’, and protection in an unstable economy, I fear that our own emotions are taking a backseat. For this kind of choice, this is a bad thing.
It’s not as easy as passion versus reason, either. I love reading, languages, travel, and the environment; but my current choice of Architecture also pulls me with the creativity, design, and freshness I crave. In my heart of hearts, however, I know I will be most content immersed in French grammar and Spanish vocabulary, preferably in Amsterdam with a good novel in my backpack. I can already hear the internet scoffing at some of the ‘Top Ten Worst Majors’: foreign language and English.
Okay, so maybe I’ve spent a few too many late nights browsing articles, College Confidential, and blogs about what I should major in. As much as I am aware of the messages I have absorbed from others, I also cannot shake away the feeling that I should be gaining skills, not having fun, in college. In any case, I know one thing: to me, college will not be an ‘investment’ or a factory to make me marketable. I will not go to work everyday without a purpose, whether that purpose is a tiny one or a world-scale goal.
I have to make my decision in four days. My choice was different an hour ago, and I have no clue what I will pick. So, there is no moral or happy ending or final nugget of wisdom; I still don’t know my purpose or my calling. But I will make a promise to myself, and I hope you will, too: no matter how ‘late’ it is, whether it’s one semester in or one decade in, if I hate my path I will change it. It’s never too late to escape, and there is a world of opportunity in front of you.
Semensky is a contributor for The Millennial Times.