You know that look people get on their faces when you say something they aren’t expecting? I know that look really well.
My decision to study music in college was not an easy one. I knew that, along with this decision, I would receive countless questions, long silences, and raised eyebrows. “Music?” My peers would say. “What are you going to do with that?”
It has taken me some time to figure out my answer to this question, but it ultimately comes down to this: I’m going to be happy.
In a world full of econ majors and engineering students, political science minors and psych concentrators, it can be hard to feel independent. Your college experience doesn’t always feel like your own when external peer, familial, and cultural pressure exceeds your own wants and dreams. Sometimes, though, making decisions for yourself that deter from your “expected” path is the only way to feel confident and purposeful. It’s the only way to bring meaning into a life filled with over-achieving peers, helicopter parents, and an educational culture that cares more about a student’s transcript than her wellbeing.
So I have chosen a different path. It’s one filled with adversaries and questioners –with people who “admire you” and “wish they could do what you’re doing,” but who have ultimately chosen to study something that will “get them a job after college.”
I may not have chosen the most conventional major, but that doesn’t mean that I have to justify my choice. Because, at the end of the day, it’s just that: my choice. I didn’t pick music so that I would make tons of money after college or so that I would impress my high school classmates at our 20th reunion. I chose music because it is my passion and it is how I relate to the world. It happens to be a field that I am interested in pursuing after college, but even more than that, it is a field that I am interested in now. It’s a field that intrigues me and that motivates me to attend class and to participate –to speak to my classmates and to engage with my professors. And isn’t that the point of college?
Society’s judgment of my choice only speaks to greater issues that plague our education system –issues that remain to be addressed and handled. But I refuse to be defined by my major –by my choice to be excited about learning instead of “qualified” or “employable.” My major does not speak to my academic ability or to my intellect, but rather to my interests, my priorities, and my aspirations. And these aspects of who I am are pieces of me that I carry proudly and unapologetically.