So, you’ve finally picked a major. You’re enrolling in classes that, for the first time, don’t sound like they should come with a “powerful sleep-inducer” or “worthless in the greater scheme of life” warning. Textbooks are more than something to flatten bent papers with and homework is no longer just mindless busywork to occupy your time during commercial breaks of your favorite TV show.
Then, the voices start.
“That’s your major? And what exactly do you plan on doing with that?” “Have you ever considered…” “Are you positive that’s what you want to do?” “You know, this is actually a great field to be getting into instead.”
Everyone has an opinion. And I know too many stories of students who hear criticism from enough people that they cave with self-doubt, regressing back into meaningless classes, overly-expensive-but-not-remotely-useful textbooks and insignificant assignments.
Hey, I know you. I almost was you. But then one day, I woke up and realized, forget all the naysayers — this is not their choice. This is mine. Here are five reasons why you should believe the same thing.
It’s your life.
This should be a self-explanatory reason, but it’s amazing to see just how many people somehow manage to forget that on an almost-daily basis. Sure, you put your shoes on the right feet every day and you can order your coffee without consulting a group of advisers, but when it comes to the big decisions some voluntarily choose to ignore what they really want in light of what other people are telling them to do. This is not your parents’ life, or your significant other’s life, or your teacher’s life — this is yours. Don’t you at least deserve the chance to live it the way you choose to live it?
They are just statistics.
It’s incredible to believe that we live in a world so devoid of headlines that “[Insert number here] majors that rake in the big bucks” can routinely appear on news sites nearly every day. Just because your major is not on the list of “highest-paying college degrees” does not mean it is not a major worth pursuing. I’m not going to pretend money isn’t a factor, and in an economy like ours you’d be foolish to think that, but at the end of the day, that’s just what someone you don’t even know says. Don’t be thwarted by the statistics because you should always know two things about them: First, many of them are incorrect or grossly exaggerated. And second, there are always exceptions. You could be one.
You probably won’t be good at it.
No offense — especially if you’re one of those lucky people whose talents just happen to lie in every realm of imagination — but for the rest of us there are subjects we’re good at and subjects we’re not so good at. Changing your major just because someone else tells you it’s a “better” major may not necessarily mean it will be a “better” major for you. On a subconscious level, if you go into a major you don’t want, you might sabotage yourself simply because you don’t care enough to try hard for it. And on a very real level, if you switch to something like being a doctor just because someone said it’s a “better” career, and you suck at chemistry, chances are you’re not going to do so great anyway. You will try your best and you will shine in whatever passion you want to pursue, not something you half-ass for someone else.
It will make your life miserable.
They claim the end result is an “improved” lifestyle compared to the one you originally wanted. If this is not what you really, truly wanted in the first place, I don’t expect you to be really, truly happy. At the risk of sounding like a cliché refrigerator magnet, life is too short to have regrets. You can’t live the rest of your life with “what-ifs.” If you’re just lackadaisically going through life at a job you don’t even care about, you’ll have nothing to show for it at the end of your life. So what if you make a mistake? They are correctable. Go try what you want to try, live and be merry.
You believe in yourself.
No matter what career field you choose to go into, what you get out of it is what you put in it. Have the faith in yourself and your decisions that you can be whatever you want to be. Remember in kindergarten, when the teacher asked the class what you all want to be when you grow up, and everyone thought long and hard to come up with “a Power Ranger” and “a fairy princess”? Have a little bit of that faith. Have that 5-year-old faith that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. As long as you believe you will be successful in whatever you want to study, you will be.
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