While I always tried really hard in school, I never had any big ambitions for myself. I never wanted to be an astronaut or a brain surgeon. I was never really interested in math or science. The only things I really liked in school were reading/writing and art. So when people inevitably asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say, "An artist or an author."

As I got older I always thought my ambitions would change. I thought I would suddenly discover that one thing that I really loved and really wanted to do with my life. But that moment never came. I continued through school disliking everything but English and art class.

When it was time to apply to colleges one question really stumped me.

"Intended major:"

I had no answer. I thought that realistically, there was no way I could be an author or an artist and survive living on my own, so I had to choose a major that would get me a real job after I graduated. Talking to my parents wasn't much help. My mom said I should go into Communications (which I later found out meant Marketing to her) and my dad didn't really have much input. Or maybe I never asked him (which I should have since he's an academic advisor at a university).

When nothing anyone suggested sounded even remotely pleasant I ended up putting Undecided on my applications. I wasn't happy with that decision, but I still couldn't figure out what sounded the least horrible (besides English and art) so I essentially left it blank.

On my first day of classes I had an opening on my schedule. I was originally going to take Spanish, but I figured I wouldn't learn how to actually speak the language so there was no point and I dropped the class. I didn't want to have too light of a schedule (because I'm a crazy person when it comes to school) so I met with my advisor and told her things I was interested in. She suggested the Intro to Fiction class that was at the same time as the dropped Spanish course.

"You can just go to the class today, and if you like it you can make it official on your transcript."

And as weird as I felt attending a class I wasn't signed up for, I did it. And boy was it a strange experience. Turns out the teacher, the head of the English department and my future advisor, hated freshman and really loved lively discussions. I sat in the front row, terrified the entire time as upperclassmen told the teacher he was wrong about whatever topic and vehemently discussed every point he made.

I was pretty shocked. None of my classes in high school had such in-depth discussions because everyone was too afraid to get the answer wrong. Here, everyone seemed excited to share their opinions.

I really liked that. And I really liked the class. So I added it to my schedule and by the end of the semester I had declared myself a Creative Writing major.

I still thought I would never get a job, but at least I was doing something interesting (to me) in school.

Then second semester started and I couldn't resist taking an art course. Of course I loved it (because I always love art classes) so by the end of the year I also had a minor: Art.

Again, I was in no way fooled into thinking I could make a profession out of my art, but man did I enjoy creating it.

Now I'm older and wiser and have two degrees (I turned the art minor into a major my junior year) and I still don't think I'm going to be some famous artist someday, but I don't really care. I'm glad I chose the courses I did because I had fun in my classes. Yes, I still managed to stress myself out over assignments because I'm me, but I never really dreaded my classes and I never felt like I was wasting my time.

I love writing and painting and even if I don't get paid to do them the way I want, I'm still happy I gained the skills I did in college. I became better at the two things I love to do most. Maybe that's not what college is for, maybe I was supposed to choose a major that would help me make lots of money, but whatever. I have a job and I have things that I like to do outside of that job (even if I spend a lot of my time watching Netflix instead).

My advice, to anyone interested in it, is to choose a topic of study that you're interested in even if you don't think it will be all that lucrative. Do what you love and all that jazz. I have degrees in creative writing and art and I still got a job, so even if you choose something other people might think is silly I bet you can find a job, too, it just might not be your most favorite thing ever. 

 

*Note: The image for this article is a painting I did myself titled "Mirror, Mirror." It's an abstract oil painting on a canvas I bought at a garage sale. 

Published by Kristina Hemmerling