Your parents have probably told you, at some point in your life, You can be anything you want! As children, this comment makes success seem like such a tangible thing; that we can readily reach up and grasp our dreams of being a police officer, a teacher, an artist, or even a superhero. My dream was becoming a hybridized teacher/artist (an art teacher perhaps?). Unfortunately, right now, as many of us are closely approaching true adulthood, many of those dreams that we’ve yearned for have been shot down – cold hard reality has settled in. Indeed, achieving our dreams was not easy or perhaps even as remotely probable as we thought.
The creative world is competitive, and it often seems like there is only ONE spot to fill. To get that spot, you have to be unbelievably talented, and blow everyone’s mind away with your portfolio. Many people’s dreams have been nuked because they don’t believe in themselves, and they gradually resort to doing what other people tell them they should do. Sure, people in STEM fields are the most likely to make an obscene sum of money and have a lot of career stability. There are high demands in those fields because everybody wants practical professionals to do their jobs and make meaningful contributions to society. I give a lot of kudos to them.
For me, pursuing a creative career was a true challenge – at times, maybe even impossible due to external factors (i.e. being in an Asian community in my case). Having a degree in any kind of art is often frowned upon. That’s why I dread it when any of my relatives or family friends asks me what I do for a living. I give them the answer, and my relatives almost always respond with “Oh…ok,” and the entire conversation instantly sinks away. When they ask my friends, who are accountants, nurses, or other STEM workers, the same question, my relatives are impressed and want to hold a conversation with them. At times like these, I feel like I put myself and my family’s name to shame, and I began to regret my decision. Later on, I realize that even though my peers’ careers fit into the “acceptable” category of jobs, I have paved my own path and shouldn’t give in to what other people think I should be doing. I am proud of what I’m doing and the decisions I made to get to where I am. I absolutely don’t want to do something for the rest of my life that I don’t truly want for myself.
Having a degree in any kind of art is often frowned upon.
But, it seems like artists have to work a great deal harder than their science and math counterparts to get where they want to be in life. For a lot of people, art doesn’t seem like a necessity; it is a mere hobby. As a college student (and a very indecisive one), I struggled to figure out what to major in. To add to that, my parents, who are traditional, advised me to pick something that is practical (and try to stay away from the arts). My parents are business people, so I thought that being in that field wouldn’t be bad for me either. I enrolled in business classes, and after going through all the supply-demand and math shenanigans (I detest math), I soon found out it was not my cup of tea. Taking those classes may be useful in the future, but I was looking for an artistic venture. While doing a lot of contemplating and with a little help from a career counselor, I’ve decided to become a journalism major because as a child, I love to write stories, whether they are fan fiction of a movie or just my travel experiences. What I didn’t think through at the time was that there are many different branches of journalism in the school, and I have to decide yet again (oh boy).
While doing a lot of contemplating and with a little help from a career counselor, I decided to become a journalism major; as a child, I loved to write stories, whether they were fan fiction of a movie or related to my travel experiences. What I didn’t think through at the time was that there are many different branches of journalism, and I have to make a decision here as well (oh boy). Going into journalism school, I was unsure if being in a news class was my style, since news classes are not really creative writing classes. My written journalism class, although it was insightful, did not fit into my category of fun – writing about police reports and other negative news. My video journalism class, however, was engaging, but I admit I am not the best at it. This makes me uncertain about my future in journalism. I continue to debate print journalism vs. broadcast journalism. Writing has always been a passion for me. However, video provides a different avenue of opportunities that I didn’t even know existed, and some of these opportunities motivated me to eventually become a Broadcast Journalism major. While in video classes, I learned how to be confident on camera and how to read through teleprompters (word-for-word), which was both an interesting and embarrassing experience. Eventually, I went deep into the broadcast journalism world by studying abroad in Italy. In Itaye, I met many talented peers and dedicated instructors who were producers, writers, and editors. I worked alongside these folks, filming the historic arts, beautiful cultures, and delicious cuisines; it was one of the best times of my life! But as graduation inched nearer, I discovered that although learning the camera work, lighting, audio, and other tricks of broadcast was intriguing, I didn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd who were more passionate about this than I was. Maybe video journalism wasn’t my calling after all. I regret not choosing to stay in print journalism. But it’s not the end of the world. After graduation, I landed a writing job, and it has been a wonderful journey and experience!
Majoring in a degree doesn’t make it your destiny; your life decisions can and should change along the way. Transferable skills make going into “non-major” jobs relatively straightforward. For instance, you can be an international business major, but later in life you discover that you love teaching art and do that for a living, or vice-versa.
Majoring in a degree doesn’t make it your destiny.
The bits of critical skills that you acquire in said major (i.e. public speaking and critical thinking) would possibly help you launch yourself into a career that you couldn’t have imagined when you were that starry-eyed kid. It is up to you to make your own path. While family and friends might have good intentions and opinions on what you should make a career in, it is ultimately your choice to determine what to do with your life. One thing to get out of this is: find something you love or enjoy doing. I’ve learned that our working lives make up most of our lives, so we really should aim to pick careers that we’re passionate about – with no regrets. I am proud to say I am a writer now.
("Pandora Toni," by Renda One)