When I entered college, I was convinced of only two things, really, when it came to picking a major: pick what you are really good at… unless it doesn’t make any money, and then pick what you are good at that makes money. If what makes money is what you aren’t as good at, that won’t matter. You’ll be making money.
Never did I give thought to choosing a degree I would enjoy, nor did I give thought to choosing a degree based on the skills it may teach me. I gave little consideration to what I might enjoy, but rather, what would be profitable. That surely is important, and I think in today’s economy and world it has a rightful place at the table, but if I could do it all over, I would have chosen differently.
And so, as a senior English major who has come a long way, I think the freshman version of me could have used the following letter.
Dear Freshman Paul,
“You will never have to go to work when you are doing what you truly love.” Those were the words you spoke at your high school graduation during your salutatorian speech in front of the hundreds assembled in the very same Performing Arts Center you pass by daily. Listen to yourself. No one knows you better than you, and you knew what you were talking about then.
Why not listen?
Sure, money is important. Don’t slack off, don’t be lazy, and get a good paying job. That’s the goal of every major, and the English major would not be a major if it were not possible to gain a job from it. It would have faded out. Survival of the fittest, right?
There will always be time to acquire money. This world is not for money, though. You said it yourself, too, “People make people happy.” Find people in college that you can love and make sure you love them. Find things in college you love to do and do them.
Find a major you love and do it.
The very same decision you have made to enter into the Math major, albeit a great major and something you do enjoy, is the very same decision down the road you will realize was never meant for you. You are a born reader and a born writer. Why fight what you already know you are meant for? Why bring yourself down, forcing thoughts of money and careers that only mildly interest you, when your true love waits right in front of you?
I know what you are thinking. This is crazy. And, it is. You shouldn’t be receiving letters from you in the future. That’s uncanny. But future you is right.
When it comes to choosing a major, choose what you love. You like Math? Dabble in it, or pick up some business classes. You might have some big plans for that down the road. (Oh, spoiler alert.) But, to pick a degree, to pick anything in life, simply because you feel you need to for money or for power or to impress anyone in a choice likely not worth making.
Choose what makes you happy in life, Paul. You’ll be surprised how love, drive, dedication, excitement, and enjoyment of life have a way of guiding you on their own. You’ll find your place in life. Everyone does eventually. Take the right steps. You won’t regret it.
Cheers (once you’re 21),
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