For years, we’ve been bombarded by the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Some people have had their hearts set on being doctors since they were 5, while others struggle to find their main passion–the “undecideds.” The typical, more represented problem of the undecided major is “I don’t know what I’m good at” or “I don’t know what I like.” But what about those of us who like too many things? Is there such a thing as having too many passions?
For me, my motto has become “I don’t know what I want to do, because I like everything.” This is more or less true, but in essence, I have way too many passions to condense into a single career or major. My friends have gotten used to me verbally mapping out my detailed career path in one subject, and then changing my mind the next day only to be more confused. “I want to be a zoologist, journalist, artist, scientist, etc. etc.” My friends look at me with concern because I sound like a hopelessly lost soul. This is only partially true. In fact, I’m probably more confident and open minded than I’ve ever been, and perhaps that’s what has led me to become so indecisive.
In the past, my main priority was to earn money in a career, regardless of that would be. I was coerced into fear by my family and peers to do something that guarantees a steady stream of income–go with a field that is safe, stable, and presents a clear future. Now I’ve come to a different conclusion: while it’s important to have financial stability, it’s also important to take risks and try to seek out unique jobs that fit your unique set of skills. There are such a diverse amount of careers on the job market and an infinite amount of study paths to follow. It seems limiting to tie yourself down to a cookie cutter career without exploring what’s out there first. Recently I’ve gone on my own mission to explore careers. I’ve talked to professionals in the midst of their careers, read biographies about success stories, and even emailed quasi-famous people in an attempt to know what’s out there and to show myself that it is possible. Learning about a person’s journey to get to their career has opened my mind up to the possibility of becoming things as different (and difficult) as a research scientist to an animation artist. However, with me at least, with open-mindedness comes more possibilities, more choices…and inevitably more indecision.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this struggle. After all, at the age of 17 or 18, how are we supposed to know what our life passion is? I’ve come to realize that undergraduate education isn’t necessarily the “end all be all.” When I went into my advisor’s office, frantically babbling about my potential majors, she told me “your undergraduate major doesn’t matter.” While I’m sure she didn’t mean this in the most literal sense, I think she was trying to tell me that just because you major in one thing, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to commit your life to it. Many careers emphasize an “undergraduate education” or a “bachelor’s degree” but don’t necessarily specify a certain major. The more I’ve talked to people about their careers, the more I hear about music majors who end up becoming doctors, and engineering majors who’ve ended up becoming translators in a foreign country. I’ve also heard about people who beautifully combine seemingly opposing subjects: medical illustrators combine art and science to provide useful references for textbooks and other sources. All in all, your major will not significantly limit you in life if you later on decide to do something else. Education doesn’t always lead to a linear career path. Sometimes you have to make changes, try out multiple careers, or even invent one. You really can’t plan every detail of the future with absolute certainty. And that’s okay.
In the meantime, I’m going to keep exploring, thinking, taking up opportunities…and just letting the future unravel.
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