Choosing Dreams Over Dough
When it comes to choosing a major, follow your heart’s desire, not your wallet’s.
By Jessica Peña, University of Texas at San Antonio
One of the most important decisions of your young adult life will be picking a major in college.
But it should also be one of the easiest. Picking what to study for your entire college career is definitely something you don’t want to take lightly. Besides extra fees that may come along if you try to change your major too many times, you should avoid wasting your precious time on classes that prepare you for a career you don’t want.
So how do you choose? I know this is probably super cheesy, but this saying has definitely rung very true for me: “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
The thought of working nearly every single day of your adult life simply to be able to live is pretty depressing. But if you get to do something you love, is it really working?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fiery passion for writing. My dream has always been to write pieces that can make others feel something deep inside them the way so many authors have done for me. I want to open peoples’ minds with what I have to say. I want to make my voice heard through my written word. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. It never feels like work because it’s simply so much bigger than that.
Despite my deep-rooted love for the liberal arts, making the decision to make it my life’s work didn’t come so easily.
I graduated as the third ranking student of my high school senior class with a pretty nice ACT score and plenty of scholarship offers. Of course, in the small town I come from, everyone and their mother felt more than welcome to put in their two cents about what I should do with the rest of my life.
When I’d tell people that I planned to be an English major and hoped to be a writer someday, I’d get confused looks and even some eye rolls. “You should be a doctor or a lawyer.” “You could make so much money.” Some of them even suggested that I check out an Online Christian MBA, a program many of my friends were interested in at the time.
Although few people understood that my passion meant more to me than the money I could make by becoming a doctor (I can’t stand the sight of blood anyway) or a lawyer, I had the support of my mother and those closest to me. That, combined with my dreams, was enough to convince me.
Now, I’m about to begin my third year in college as an English major with concentrations in both creative and professional writing, and I couldn’t be happier. My writing assignments aren’t homework, they’re practice. My assigned readings aren’t ever a drag, they’re a much welcomed escape. Deciding to do what I love was the best thing I could have done for myself. It makes getting through college much less painful, and practically guarantees a career I will enjoy, not dread.
Even if I never make millions or earn a spot on the Best Seller’s list, I know I’ll always be happy doing what I do.
Don’t you want to be able to say the same?
If you like to work with your hands, pick up your tools and become a mechanic, carpenter or even an engineer. If you’ve got a knack for listening to peoples’ troubles and helping them out, get yourself a psychology degree and a leather couch. If you want to save lives and don’t mind getting dirty, have someone hand you a scalpel and become a surgeon. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it’s what you love.
There’s no shame in any career path you choose—an honest living is just that, whether it’s large or modest.
Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with taking into account the opinion of those who know you well. But at the end of the day, the only one sitting through those classes and working that job is going to be you.
And sure, money can buy practically anything in the world. But it can’t buy you passion. It can’t buy you love for the work you do on a daily basis. It can’t buy fulfillment for those lifelong dreams you ignored.
In the long run, going with what you want to do, as opposed to what you think would earn you the most money, will pay off tenfold in happiness. At the same time, if you really want to do something that just happens to make you rich in the process, then good for you. Personally, I’ve found that life goes a lot more smoothly when you’re doing something you enjoy—especially when it comes to school and work.
I’ve known other students who struggle and suffer through classes all because they terribly dislike the subject matter. I think it’s so insane to put yourself through such a hassle—an expensive one at that. If I’m going to owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, it’s going to be for an education in something that actually means something to me.
If you know people who are unhappy in their career field, you know that’s not an enticing future. I can’t speak from experience quite yet, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to have to drag myself out of bed in the morning to work eight hours at a job I hate just to come home and be miserable.
No one wants that. So spare yourself the heartache and hard earned cash and just chase your dream from the get go. Following your heart is never something you’ll look back on one day and regret.