Children in America (and other countries, I assume) are in daycare and school nearly as early as we can remember. We start bringing home homework as early as the first grade, and that’s usually around the time that people are asking what we want to be when we grow up, even though we have little to no exposure to these careers. In fact, I had a set of memory books my parents filled out each year I was in elementary school that detailed and preserved some of my mindset at the time, my favorite color, favorite subject in school, and a section about what I wanted to be when I grow up. In kindergarten or first grade, I checked the box next to “flight attendant.” I’m not sure I had any idea what a flight attendant was, and if I knew how anxious and upset that flying made me, I wouldn’t have checked that box.
But into middle school, I was pressured into choosing a career path by way of choosing electives to take in middle and high school. I chose cosmetology because I loved hair and makeup–which ended up being a good idea because it gave me good experience working in a salon–but I’m not pursing a career in cosmetology. At the end of high school, your teachers, parents, and advisers really push you to choose your career, and you do this by choosing your college major and the specific school you’re going to go to.
I never heard this going into college, which is wild because I had a very unique experience entering college, but your job, your calling, and what you study do not have to be the same thing. I’m studying Women’s and Gender Studies. That’s not a job, like engineering, or education, which was my major before WGS. My calling is writing. I love writing, and I want to use my skills and passion for writing to help people. I could have easily been an English major (to be fair, I was English education) or a creative writing major. But I love to study WGS, and this major is something that will help me in any job. I might not end up doing a job that directly relates to my major or writing, and that’s okay.
I see so many students going into college and having terrible anxiety about their major, or even partway through college. Even people that don’t go to college, that immediately enter the workforce, often feel bad because they feel like college students will be able to more easily get jobs. But look, college isn’t for everyone. Let me repeat, college isn’t for everyone. I really thrive in an academic environment, and a lot of people do, but a lot of people also don’t. If you’re a hands-on learner and know you will thrive in the workforce rather than college, don’t go to college! It’s a lot of debt for you to not be happy and for it to not work for you.
You don’t have to go to college to be successful, and you certainly don’t have to have a major that correlates exactly with the career you want. Your career can literally just be the thing you do during the day to make money. There’s no reason that you can’t pursue your passion on the weekends or try to make it fit in with work. Don’t have an existential crisis because you’re worried that you’re in the wrong major, everything will be fine. You will be fine.