Reality check

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I am planning on majoring in business.

Although when I was very little, I dreamed of becoming an artist and a writer. Then I learned everything an ordinary girl is supposed to learn from k-12. My world exploded with new knowledge, but I gradually stopped picturing a dream job.

Our career choices have become a black-or-white issue – you are either going to pursue your dream from when you were 7 or 8 or 9, or you are going to get a degree in Electrical Engineering, aka “a real job.” But life does not expect me to do a job I feel indifferent towards, and I am responsible for my own happiness and well-being.

Because I still hold onto art and literature as sanctuary and my aversion to math was well-known, when I told my best friend about my major, she pretty much scrutinized me like I was hiding drugs. She said “You don’t have to do what you don’t love,” which to me, sounded like “Rachel, you don’t look very comfortable.”

American culture is self-contradictory. On one hand, it advocates for freedom, for the mentality to venture out and do what we love, yet on the other hand, it leads to comments like President Obama’s on the impracticality of an art history degree all the time.

Before senior year, I also developed a fondness for journalism. It seemed like a position that allowed me to write every day could be nothing but an ideal job. However, after surviving many news articles, I no longer think of journalism the same way. Pressure from deadlines dawned upon me and the fun of writing just slowly drifted away – not to mention the times when I was at a loss for words because I constantly mixed up two languages in my head.

The outcome isn’t always what I expected in the beginning, but since I’ve had a bite of journalism, I had a chance to decide if it’s suitable for me. Business – although new to me – presents a very different but prevalent angle to approach the world with. Looking back, I am actually quite lucky to have decided on a major that is not solely based off of my interests.

Growing up, we receive all sorts of expectations for what our lives are supposed to include – a job, a house, a car, 2.5 kids and a dog. Society pushes us off to the dream side while the education system rushes our decisions. This weird combination not only increases our confusion, but also gives the illusion that we have to plan an accurate future four years in advance. But we are barely 18. We are much more flexible than what our majors define us to be. Four years can cultivate a myriad of new interests, and who knows, one of them might become your future career.

Choosing a “practical” way doesn’t mean forever straying away from the dream, and chasing a dream doesn’t mean being homeless for the rest of your life. A job is about money, a dream is about love, and a career should be about both.

Dreams and reality aren’t antonyms. They never were.