Pursuing your passion in a world of naysayers

One of my favorite books! (Photo courtesy of Steve Hogarty on Flickr Creative Commons)

Books have always been my passion. When I was little, I would ask for a book before a toy, and I would sit for hours flipping through the pages. The older I got, the more I began to realize that books were my life. If something stressful was going on, I would lose myself in a book for as long as possible. Books felt like they should be in my life forever, I wanted them to be much more than a hobby.

It seemed obvious to make a career out of my passion, but I was always told that there is not much money in the writing business. So, I convinced myself that becoming a Microbiologist was much more realistic. I told myself that STEM careers are in high demand, and I was certainly more likely to get a job as a scientist than as a writer.

Until my senior year of high school, I was completely set on going to college and being a science major. Then, on the first day of my last semester of high school, I stumbled into my AP English Literature class and fell in love with words all over again. AP English was the highlight of my day; reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and Kate Chopin’s The Storm cemented my love for literature even further. Having this passion for literature, how could I give it up? Studying cellular anatomy and genetics, interesting as they may be, never brought me as much joy as reading a good story did.

My AP English teacher helped me make my decision to come to the College and major in English. He told us one day that college should teach you how to live, not how to make a living. That really stuck with me. Without him I would have stayed on a track that may not have made me happy in the end. Literature is what is important to me. So what if I end up being a so-called starving artist after college? Why is it that we are all so concerned about what is going to make us money? If you love something and it makes you happy, stick with it. Money is not everything.

Here I am, about a year after my AP English class, still in love with books and writing. I plan on majoring in English and pursuing a career in publishing. I have learned that there are people who consider English an easy major, and there are people who find it pointless unless you plan on being a teacher someday. Who determines what is and is not an easy major? Who decides that your major in college is a direct route to what you are going to do with the rest of your life? Major-shaming is old and boring and no one wants to hear it anymore. If you are passionate about something, there is no possibility of it being pointless.

My AP English teacher taught me that words are arbitrary, they only carry the weight you allow them to. Do not listen to people who tell you what you love is pointless. If you want to major in philosophy, do it. Ignore the naysayers and people who tell you there is no future in doing what you love. Strive for what is going to bring you the most joy in life because, when it comes down to it, life is much too short to pursue anything but your passion.

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