School started for me this past Monday and as it’s come up in casual conversation with friends and family, I’m inevitably asked what major I’ve chosen. Currently, I am working towards an English/Writing double major. My dream is to work as a food writer, a cookbook author, or a freelance food journalist.
I have a hard time dealing with people’s responses to my major. “Are you going to teach?” is often asked, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with teaching, it’s not for me and I wish I lived in a world where humanity major = teaching wasn’t such an ingrained mentality. Frequently, I hear about aunt so-and-so or my-friend-such-and-such who had an English major and wasn’t able to do anything with it. Most people give me this glazed squint, as if I’d told them I wanted to be a showgirl or the person who names crayon colors (both would be awesome jobs).
When do you reach the point when adults stop congratulating you on dreaming big and start wondering why you’re not becoming an accountant or a nurse or something practical? As a child, “astronaut” or “football player” or “chef” or “fireman” was an appropriate response to the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” However, as a college student, I sometimes feel that the appropriate response to “What is your major?” ought always to be something predictable and safe and fiscally responsible.
Bottom line: I (and you, if you struggle with this) need to stop looking for that spark of approval that some vocations always seem to receive. My husband is a chiropractor and while chiros often receive a lot of criticism, most people who we talk to are impressed with Zach’s career choice and applaud him for receiving a doctorate degree. I myself couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s worked very hard to be a doctor. He will probably make a lot of money in his lifetime and have a very successful career.I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up. Maybe I won’t “use” my college degree (to make money, that is).
However, I can tell you something: I will work just as hard as my husband to earn an education in a field I find interesting and rewarding and to find work that I love in that field. Maybe it won’t make much sense to people in the context of small talk and maybe my accomplishments will be inconsequential. But I want to try to do what I love. And when I ask people what their college major is, I am going to take as much interest in and show as much approval for an answer of “biochemistry”, “social work”, or “zoology”. We give our educations meaning and worth, not the other way around.