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My Conventional Career Path – And Hidden Major

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When strangers ask me what I’m studying at Emory, I tell them what they want to hear.

“I’m on the pre-med track, with the hopes of becoming a physical therapist one day. Oh, and I think I might major in English, but I’m not really sure about that yet.”

Not once do we talk about my “maybe English” major. The “GPA booster” is glazed over, not important enough to warrant a conversation. I want to become a doctor. Who cares about the English major, right?

I’m here to tell you that I care. I care about my English major more than I care about anything else in college. But unlike what Erin Oquindo shared in her article, I don’t have the guts or the confidence to tell these strangers the truth: I’m an English major who might become a doctor, but I’m not so sure.

My Anatomy and Physiology course is a challenge both mentally and emotionally because while the content is interesting, the passion isn’t there. I feel like I’m just going through the motions, completing work and studying for tests because I have to, not because I want to.

My poetry class, on the other hand, is the single best thing in my life this semester. I sit in my earlier classes, drumming my fingers on my Chemistry notebook, counting down the seconds until I can walk into the class that puts my soul at ease. Every time I turn the doorknob of Language Hall 101, a feeling of contentment washes over me. As I step through the doorway, I feel my heart swell and my pulse begin to race. Walking into class this afternoon, I realized these feelings are telling me something important; I am in love with English.

If this is true, why am I scared to admit not only to strangers, but also to myself, what I’m truly passionate about? Lately, I’ve been pondering why I feel the need to lie in hopes of impressing people I don’t know. The best answer I can offer is this: for some reason, I need validation that I’m doing everything right. I allow people’s judgements and standards to affect an important life choice because I want them to be proud of me. This makes it impossible to truly embrace my love of English because I’m too busy struggling down a path that other people are creating for me, causing me to lose sight of what I am proud of.

I’m not here to belittle the pre-med or humanities majors. Like Erin, I am happy for those who know what they want. But more than that, I envy the people that know what they want and aren’t afraid to go after it with their entire heart, mind, and soul. Am I here to tell you that I’m prepared to drop everything and take only English classes? No. But deep down, I wish I had the confidence to do that. Maybe I will one day. Until then, I will continue to suffer through the classes I must take in preparation for a career I don’t know I want to have. But I will also continue to read every single day. I will never turn down a book recommendation or advice from my incredible English teacher, Dr. Hawley. Most of all, I will continue to try pushing myself out of the path that was chosen for me, and into the world that I know I love.

So much of college feels like you need to have everything figured out. Sometimes, however, just figuring out what you love is the most valuable thing you can do. As Jack Kerouac writes in his book On the Road, “I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.”

I hope my confusion and lack of courage to follow what I love will inspire you to reflect on what’s important to you, not to your parents, teachers, or society. I hope that one day I can do that, too.

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My Conventional Career Path – And Hidden Major