I’m sitting in a coffee shop, listening to two college students beside me discuss their majors. They’re apparently both in the sciences, both pondering medical school. At least one of them doesn’t particularly like her major, has considered English or psychology, but is resigned because she’s already put so much time into her current major and because, she says, “at least with science you know what to do with it.” Meaning, the career prospects are more secure–and more direct.

But what I’ve found–as a former science major who did make the switch to an English major–is that if you simply do what you want to do, the rest will follow. I still remember how terrified I was to make that leap–somehow I had it in my head that English majors didn’t find jobs after graduation.

But they do, of course; yet it took me a long time to figure out that if English majors never found jobs, if they were all starving on the streets, I’d have heard about it.

What an English major–or most humanities majors–don’t provide (unless one pursues a Ph.D. and a career analyzing or teaching the subject of one’s studies) is a clear-cut, straight-line to a career. But neither, really, is a degree in chemistry or physics. We all find our way into our lives one step at a time, and rarely via a straight path, and there aren’t any guarantees.

Which means we might as well at least strive to do the things we love. We won’t manage them all the time; and there will be jobs and living situations we hate along the way, maybe all the way along the way.

But far worse than having things one hates doing as bumps in the road, I think, would be having things one hates doing as the whole point of the journey.

(And yes, I did chime in just long enough to say that I had jumped majors, and survived. Just in case knowing someone had might be helpful.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *