Choosing My Path in a World of Expectations
Following the Passion or the Money
I recently graduated high school. It is almost weird to say, because it's a whole new feeling; this is the time when you get to take your future in your own hands. You no longer have to take required courses; you can decide what you want for yourself, begin to create your own path to what you hope will be a successful future. As a young person, this time of your life can be terribly exciting. Here you are, with such a wide expanse of choices before you, ready to start the next part of your journey into adulthood. However, it doesn't always feel like you have boundless opportunities. Even the best of us, the kids who knew what they wanted to do since childhood, get caught up in the danger of expectations.
Expectations are absolutely everywhere these days. Your parents have them, your friends have them, the chatty lady down the street has them. Many of them don't necessarily have to be negative, but the expectations on youth today are adding to the pressure we've already been feeling for months.
Throughout my entire senior year, everyone told me to enjoy the rest of my high school career. I wanted to; I really did. It was a difficult task, though, because everyone needed to know everything about my plans. Over the year, I could see that my peers were also feeling the pressure... and some were beginning to crack under the weight of expectations.
I have always loved writing. Ever since I was a child, I would tell my parents that I desperately wanted to be an author. I still do; writing is my passion. More often than not, though, being an author isn't very lucrative. My brain is more geared towards creativity and self-exploration, while someone else's may be more focused on the sciences. Mind you, I enjoyed my science classes; I got some of the top marks in Biology 12... but I wasn't passionate about it.
Teachers and staff around the school would ask me if I was going into the sciences, because many students with high grades in courses like Biology often find themselves looking at a Bachelor of Science. I said no and explained that I was going to take my Bachelor of Arts at a Liberal Arts school. Some people were visibly surprised. Someone even said "But you're so smart," as though my pursuing my passions somehow denounced any previous academic achievement.
At first, like many of my peers, I was sure that I was making the right decision for myself. However, the more I experienced the stigma around the arts as a career, the more unsure I became. I saw it everywhere; good students who wanted to become estheticians but felt like they were throwing away their potential. Kids who were more hands-on but felt they needed a university degree instead of going into a trades program. I thought that I would finally be able to pursue my dream by learning more about writing and literature. I wanted to enjoy secondary education and I wanted it to mean something to me... but the more I saw people talking about how useless a Bachelor of Arts degree was, doubt started gnawing away at my decision.
So came the question: did I want to follow my passion, or follow the money? It's difficult for some people, and especially kids my age in this day in age. The work force is incredibly competitive and it's hard to gauge what you really want to do at the end of your education. I know that some kids are going to end up caving to society's expectations of them and will probably end up regretting what they're doing. It's unfortunate that we don't treat all education as good education; everyone learns differently and wants to achieve very different things. Just because you get good grades doesn't mean you can't be an artist. Just because you write great essays doesn't mean you can't be a scientist.
I believe that we should let the dreamers dream, the thinkers invent and everything in-between. We should bring more passion into our careers and schools. It was a struggle for me to deal with my intelligence somehow being less than it is just because of what I wanted to pursue, but I knew deep down that I wanted to love what I was doing. I'm excited to start my Bachelor of Arts this fall and to create even more in a supportive community of like-minded individuals.
If anyone is at that stage of their lives—deciding what they want to pursue—please, choose for yourself. Don't let your decision be swayed from your passions or goals by what other people think. Dream big and think bigger.