When I was in community college, I accidentally signed up for a creative writing workshop. I finished the course to the end, only to find out the next semester that it did not apply to my degree (which was, at the time, an Associate of Social Sciences that I intended to carry into a Criminal Justice degree at a university). Some would say that class was a waste; I say it was the most important college class I took.
I absolutely loved that course. It was taught by an older published author who had the wit and confidence I hope to have someday. Every class was raw and enlightening, and for the first time in my college career, I felt myself brilliantly stimulated.
One day after class, the professor asked if we could talk. He asked what I was studying, and then told me I had a gift for writing. Without explicitly telling me what to do with my life, he finished by saying that I would be smart to harness that gift, or I would regret it.
No, I didn’t change my life plans because some old man who writes books advised me to do so. I did, however, keep it in the back of my mind. I deliberated. I talked to advisors and took aptitude tests. I stayed up too late on too many occasions deliberating some more, as I do with most things.
Almost three years later, I’m entering my senior year as an English major. Not because it’s going to secure me a high salary, and not because it’s the most practical and glorious route I could take, but because it would be ridiculous of me to ignore a passion that will lead me into a fulfilling life. Although my degree isn’t smoothly delivering me into an exact line of work, it’s teaching me how to think, how to question what is known and what isn’t, how to carry myself in professional settings, how to speak and write with poise, how to combine different forms of media and communication, and how to investigate and research–all of which will aid me substantially in the type of work I hope to do.
What I learned from this: study what interests you. If you have enough passion for something, it will show through in whichever manner you choose to carve yourself into the world–a world now expansive enough that we don’t all have to be doctors, lawyers, and insurance agents anymore (unless we want to). Find that passion, and apply it.
A note on applying your passion: the route you should take may not always be obvious. When I was just a couple months into being an English major, I let the common claims from others that I “could only be a teacher with my degree” get to me. I almost changed by path to Secondary Education just to be rid of the constant grievous feeling that I was headed nowhere sound. (I admire those who want to teach, but I simply realized that wasn’t my dream.)
Don’t be that person. While it’s good to be realistic, I also think we owe it to ourselves to put in a little extra time, contemplation, and innovation to ensure the world receives our full potential. It might mean grad school. It might mean many, many job applications. It might mean freelance work. It will almost always mean networking.
Let’s be dreamers, not settlers.
Cover photo found here.