I know, you haven’t heard from me in awhile. Sorry about that! With a respiratory illness and some craziness going on it was a bit difficult to get online. But! I now have a phone that is amazing and works so I can not only do things on my computer now, but it’s not a total pain in the you know what to do them on the go. Yay! (Score 1 for the Samsung Galaxy S5).
But something dawned on me today and I felt the need to share it.
This post is geared towards high school and college aged readers – particularly those going into college – but it can apply to anyone who has a passion for writing. (Or anything).
We’ll focus on writing, though, since this is a writing blog. 😉
So if you’re going into college, or thinking about college, or still in the honeymoon general ed period of college, and you’re thinking “I really want to be a writer”, tell me how many times you’ve heard this.
“But you need to get a degree in something employable,” or “But you need to get a degree that will ensure you a secure job when you graduate,” or “You need to declare a major that’s likely to help you”.
Unless you have an unusually supportive group of people around you in the form of friends and family, you’ve likely heard this so many times you want to puke. And I say puke. Okay not really. But my point is you have every right to feel that way.
Let me tell you something I know from experience.
Job security is bull. The idea that there is somehow a group of degrees that guarantee you a job, or a set of jobs that guarantee you’ll be employed for life, or a path you can take that will be any more secure than another path is absolute cruddola. Hoopla. Nonsense. Toomfoolery. You get the picture.
I can safely tell you that nothing I learned in college applies to my daily life today. Except for perhaps the psychology classes I took.
Disclaimer: I am not advocating that you drop out of college. (Unless you really feel called to something else.) If you’re all about learning and you really want to get a degree, good for you!
All I’m saying is that you don’t need to pick a certain degree in order to do college “right”.
My dad was an art major and he now works at an architectural firm doing nothing related to art or architecture. I have friends who majored in business that aren’t even employed. I know people with law degrees that are quite literally working at McDonald’s. Not that there’s anything wrong with working at McDonald’s, but when you’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and spent years obtaining a legal education and you find yourself saying “Would you like fries with that?” you’ve very aptly proven the point that no degree is “certain”, and no job is “guaranteed”.
Let me ask you a question.
What do you think college is for? What is its purpose?
Answer that to yourself, and then move on. I’ll wait.
*sips coffee out of a penguin mug*
(No really, I have one.)
What did you come up with?
Did you say it was to get a degree that will get you a job? Did you say it was to figure out what you want to do in life? Did you say it was to be more employable?
Nice tries. But wrong, wrong, and wrong.
The whole point of college is supposed to be that you spend your general education testing the waters, you find what makes you go “YES!”, and then you major in that and explore it and develop your skill.
You’re supposed to be on fire for what you’re learning in college past your general education.
This is supposed to be the time in your life where you figure out what you actually want to learn about, and then you go learn about that.
What it’s become, however, is a job-getting center. And that’s just not true.
I went into college *ahem* years ago (it wasn’t that long, but I still feel old saying it), and I was going to major in music. Until I was told that perhaps music wasn’t that employable, and what would I do with that degree, and gee wouldn’t I rather get something that I could be a bit more productive with?
I changed my major 7 times officially while in college. About 20 times unofficially. I really dug my creative writing classes, and my design class was so much fun. But then again I was asked how employable it was, or what I’d do with it.
I took a lot of psychology classes, criminal justice classes, and law classes because I found them really interesting. But finally I broke down and took another choir class because I missed music so much. I took a creative writing class I didn’t even need because I was dying for some kind of creative outlet I could “excuse” somehow by “having to do it” for a class.
Eventually I got my degree in Political Science, but that was because I got to the point of wanting to major in Psychology (only had a few more classes), but was basically told that it would be ridiculous to continue for a whole extra semester when I could finish my political science degree more quickly.
At one point I had switched my major to Child Development because I worked at a daycare and loved every second of it. But some people even seemed to think that was not employable.
Can I tell you something?
I have never once worked in anything related to political science. I’ve never had a job where I used anything I learned about in the “really should take those” classes I took. I’ve never even been asked, at any job interview ever, how my college education or major relates to my job.
Because unless you’re doing something like engineering or being a doctor, NOBODY CARES!
Now things are going to get trippy.
I finally figured out that what I really love to do is write and do music. (Oh, you mean like….what I was going to major in when I first started out in college? Yeah, that.)
I also happen to love design.
When I went to look for “real jobs” – a.k.a. the kind where you go and work for someone else and get a fraction of the money you deserve – I looked for jobs in music and writing.
And what do you know? They all required degrees in that area.
Then I finally settled on freelancing. And got a job – which I still have and love – as an instructional assistant in special education. (Yup, sounds a lot like that unemployable child development to me.)
Moral of the story?
I spent 5 years of my life taking classes I largely didn’t like or was only mildly interested in because everyone told me what I really wanted to do wasn’t “secure”, only to wind up doing EXACTLY those things.
Security is a load of cake batter! Kaka! Dooey! Bullhickey! Hoo-hoo!
DO WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP!
College is not for everyone. And you don’t need a college degree to do everything. If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer, go to college. If you want to explore your skills and figure out what you love and then go deep in a certain area, go to college.
But if you’re like man, I just want to write! I just want to tell stories and make people think! Or even – I just want to write web content and help businesses grow!
THEN DO IT! And if you’re in college, take those writing classes, major in English, don’t listen to anyone but your inner voice. That thing that screams “This is what I love!”
College – if you go – is supposed to be the place where you figure out what makes you come alive. Nothing else matters.
So please, please, please. Don’t listen to what anyone tells you if it comes in the package of “employable” or “secure” or has the question “What are you ever going to do with that?” attached to it.
And if someone does ask you what you’re going to do with it, it’s perfectly okay to say “I don’t know yet – but I’m excited to find out.”
People often expect you to have all the answers about your life at a very young age. That’s crap.
I’m 28 and I still don’t have all the answers to what my life’s about. Although I’m positive that had someone told me about finding my inner passion and doing what I loved a lot earlier on, I’d have been where I am sooner. But that’s okay. We each have our path.
But inspiration and the “right answer” will very rarely come from anyone other than you. At least past learning the basics of life from parents or guardians.
Listen to yourself. Figure out what makes you happy. Learn about what it is that makes you joyful. And then find a way to share it with the world. And know that it’s completely okay to not know what you’re going to “do with it” right now.
That’s my soap box speech. *steps off*
Until next time – happy writing!