I would like to believe it all began recently, but I would be lying to myself. The inquisition as to the topic of my future began long before my early years of high school. I’m sure when I was a toddler playing with blocks someone commented how I would make a great architect someday; recently, however, these comments have become more aggressive and are often preceded by variations of one, horrifying question:
“So, what are majoring in?”
The word ‘major’ first appeared in this question in my freshman year of high school. Back then, when I answered saying, “I don’t know,” the inquisitor would just shrug, accepting my answer and moving on. Lately though, my answer has become less than acceptable for most. A few months ago, I was sitting in my living room during my brother’s graduation party, listening to a few people talking about what colleges they’re going to and what they’re going to study. It was fun to listen to, until the conversation turned to me:
“How about you? What are you going to major in?”
“Well, I don’t really know yet.”
“You’re going into business, aren’t you?” my friend, an art major, says, “everyone who says they don’t know what they’re going into majors in business.”
“Yeah, I don’t think that’s for me.” My grandmother then proceeds to name about fifteen seemingly unrelated careers I should pursue: nurse, lawyer, secretary, artist, scientist, etc. I finally have to cut her off after she suggests nurse a second time. At this point, I try to exit the conversation, but the group is focused on me.
“You should really choose soon or you won’t know what colleges to apply to,” my brother’s friend, an aspiring child psychologist tells me.
“You should go into photography. You could make some okay money as a product photographer.”
“You’re so smart, you would be great at science, why not biology?”
“You could be a mathematician like your cousin.”
“How about an English major?”
My mother then comes up to me, not hearing the conversation, and asks me to go find someone’s jacket, a request I happily comply with and run out of the room. I may have been spared for the time being, but that party was only the beginning.
With one sibling preparing to go in the fall and the other preparing to take the ACT this year, the subject college and the future comes up everyday in my house. My parents question me all the time about what I want to do with my life, and my signature indecisive answer is becoming troubling.
With college costs higher than they’ve ever been, students literally can no longer afford to go to college to “find themselves.” We, as students, are expected to know what we what they want to do with the rest of our lives by the time we’re 15, and if we aren’t enthusiastic about it, then we are told that someone more willing, more qualified, and more passionate will do it.
So what if I decide halfway through my education that I want to switch majors? Well, my choices are to fork over thousands of extra dollars to get all the credits I need, putting me into debt (if I wasn’t already) or I can just suck it up, finish my major and go along with my original plan, even if it makes me unhappy; all because of a decision I made when I was a teenager.
To me, this is all very daunting. How am I supposed to find my passion when I can barely find the art room at school?
I’ve been trying to figure out why all of my friends have had such an easy time finding what they want to major in. Some are obvious to me, like an art major who has been drawing since they could hold a pen, or an aspiring veterinarian who has had more pets than I’ve had birthdays, but others are more mysterious.
One of my friends recently told me she wanted to major in something called history and modern language, to which I responded first by asking what the hell that is, and then after her two minute explanation, asked how she came to the conclusion that was what she wanted. She told me about how taking classes on western civilization & religion and traveling to Paris and London fostered a passion for culture and language that she desperately wants to pursue.
It was only then that I realized why I have yet to choose a major; I haven’t developed any passions, the key word being develop.
My whole life I’ve been waiting to suddenly stumble upon something so interesting and enjoyable that I instantly know it is what I want to pursue, but what I failed to realize, as an article from Elite Daily put it, is that passion is something that is cultivated rather than found.
I won’t have some great epiphany that I was born to write awful romance novels or herd sheep in New Zealand; my passion will be created by pursuing what I find interesting, taking classes on journalism, reading books about other cultures, or watching videos of surgery on YouTube. Maybe not the last one.
The point is, if I can find something that I’m interested in and want to learn more about, then I can nurture that fascination until it grows into my passion, and high school is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Between all the different electives offered at school and the endless amount of clubs looking for members, finding something I enjoy is as easy as just showing up and being open.
So hopefully, at my next graduation party I can be a contributor to the college conversation rather than an observer.