I have a confession. It’s a confession that I don’t often vocalize because I am one of those people that hate admitting things such as this. I go round and round, silently hoping my fears, concerns, annoyances will disappear with time, yet I know they will only get worse… I have a love-hate relationship with my Liberal Arts major, and it’s not because I sometimes hate the subject or my experience with it. I am an English major with a Creative Writing Emphasis and a History minor. This major combination was my plan in the fourth grade (when I first learned that majors existed), and it is still my plan now. I love reading, I love comparing authors, I love writing, and I love anything historical. I’m kind of a nerd, I admit… but so far in my college career, I’ve learned that society doesn’t feel quite as enthusiastic about my major. I cannot even count the times that I’ve been talking to someone, often older and already in the middle of their career, who asks me what I’m majoring in, and once I tell them, reply with, “Ah, I see,” followed by a long pause, then, “are you planning on teaching?” If I had to offer a rough estimate, the number of times I’ve heard this is in the hundreds.
It really irks me, if I’m being honest. I hate how people just assume I’m going to teach. Even if my career path did include teaching, that is not a bad thing, and I hate the negative connotation and condescending tone that accompanies this line of questioning. I actually cringe when people ask me this, with that tone implying, “you have no future in a profitable, ultra-successful career.” In recent months, I started considering law school for a post-undergraduate educational route, and let me just tell you, this conversation I hate so much is taking a turn. I get the teaching question, and then when I respond with, “actually, I’m thinking of going to law school,” the person’s demeanor completely changes. Suddenly their eyes light up, and they begin showering me with information, telling me that’d be a great career for me, and that that’s a really great career. In these instances, I go back to conversations shared with my dad as a young girl, as a middle school student, as a high-schooler stressed about college, and now, as a college student.
In conversations where I express annoyance with people’s general lack of understanding about why I would major in English, my dad always says this, “major in what you love as an undergraduate, then move on to a grad school to specialize in something you can get a great job in (that you still love)”. So, for me, my undergraduate career is doing what I love, which is English. For graduate school, I may continue to pursue English, or I may go to law school because law has always been in the back of my mind, along with being a professor. I’m not sure which is more my “calling,” but I bet you I will figure it out. I just wish people weren’t so negative about liberal arts majors. I may be an English major, but at least I love my classes and my professors and what I’m studying, unlike my friends who study science or business simply because it will make them money eventually. I know money is important, and I know I want a job that makes a comfortable living, but I also know that I love English, and that I could do virtually anything after I get my bachelor’s degree in English. So, I suppose my sentiment in this post is this: do what you love, you can figure out logistics later, and don’t become discouraged to follow your dreams when others project negativity onto what you’re doing. I think there’s a saying that goes, “you do you.” I think more people need to follow this, and just do. And if you aren’t sure what you want to do, well that’s okay too. Just know that if you are doing something you love, it doesn’t matter what other people think.