Why you should major in what you love, not what sounds stable

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

SOPHIE ZARA, Channels Staff

“So what are you studying in school?”

It’s noon and we have guests in our kitchen who are attempting small talk with generic and basic education questions.

This happens at least six times every week. The Thacher House is not only a business but it is also my home. Although we have guests from all over the world with different talents, professions or experiences, they all ask me the same questions.

“English huh? You want to be a teacher?”

No I do not want to teach, I simply want to have a piece of financial stability. I chose to major in English as a cushion, since in today’s society you need a college degree to stand out from the masses when applying for jobs. The entry-level positions simply do not pay enough for even the most basic of lifestyles.

Many people put finding a secure job and making money over doing what makes them happy. I used to feel the same, until I started taking classes that were outside of my comfort zone. In the process, I discovered my true passion: film and media studies.

“Arts major? Well, good luck with that.”

No kidding. Art majors are seen as the least likely moneymaking and thus the term “starving artist” was coined. Many artists must work two or more jobs just to stay afloat while they continue to produce art. Those who sacrifice, however, often end up with more than those who are too afraid of change.

It took me a while to truly come to terms with what I loved to do because I was afraid.

I was afraid of rejection from my family and friends. Afraid I was going to starve and be homeless straight out of college.

After talking myself through the facts, I realized those are simply irrational fears. I have a loving family home where I can go if I’m ever in trouble and unlimited resources. The only antagonist I could see clearly was myself.

I used to believe that there was a “right” answer for what I’m currently studying. I was supposed to say I was studying English, political science or law so that I could receive some sort of superficial societal approval. But every time I told that lie, I felt a piece of my true passion slipping away.

By not acknowledging what truly makes me happy, I drew further and further into the unknown and uncertain part of myself. This caused me to worry about the future instead of working on myself in the present moment.

However, I am doing myself a disservice by denying my own happiness. The road to success is often a lonely one because in the end, you’re experiencing it all.

Even if I had the president’s approval of my major, it wouldn’t change that fact that it isn’t my passion. I now know exactly what I want to do and how I want to do it. I’m not going to live in fear anymore because I don’t want to risk losing this feeling.

I am going to chase it until I reach the end. And how can I possibly fail if I learn from my mistakes? There is no shame in reinventing yourself, as long as you don’t give up.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”