Although “Do what you love” sounds like a corny motivational segment, I’m a firm believer in this. At the very least, what you love should guide you. Consider this when choosing a college major/career path. Originally, I went to college to be a high school history teacher. I knew after my 1st semester of Africana Studies that there wasn’t anything else I wanted to be doing. Before then, I never knew people could go to school and take classes in black history. I’d never learned any in my K-12 curriculum. Being able to get a degree in a subject that continued to validate me was motivating.
Eventually, I realized that I couldn’t be a traditional teacher and do black history all day, so I considered being a professor. I wanted to be just like my professors in my Africana Studies department: on-campus twice a week, playing soca music videos in class and nurturing students like myself to be great. When I got my BA, I thought I was going to do black studies all the way through PhD, but leaving my HBCU changed all that. So now I’m going into a Higher Ed program (at another HBCU) to do the same work I intended to do in a black studies program.
Yes, the road has had its twists, turns, obstacles, and even delays. But a commitment to what I am most passionate about is what drives my persistence. My passion helped me maintain my wiliness to adjust to the changes I needed to make for my journey.
Research and soul search. I had convinced myself in 8th grade that I wanted to go to school to be a chef. I’d been getting good at making a few things from scratch and now I was pressed. My mom was miserable. My dad, had a “whatever you want to do baby” philosophy. But I was smart. I went to the library and researched career paths in culinary arts. I knew how much education I would need. I even researched several Art Institutes where I would potentially go after graduating high school. I knew how many years it would take me to “reach the top”. Although my baking was barely scratching the surface I had ultimate faith in my ability to learn and conquer and I knew one day I’d be an Executive Pastry Chef.
There’s nothing that grinds me more than talking to an undergrad who is too far in and miserable about their major. I know many people’s parents use all kinds of tactics to force their hand for what they want. I don’t agree with this. But I also believe that you should present your folks with a plan. When you figure out what you love, figure out how you can make money doing it and show them how what you’re currently doing will lead you to an end game. Even with all my grand schemes and crazy ideas, my people can never say that I didn’t at least present them with very sound arguments on how I planned to pull them off. Pull out that Powerpoint, slap some graphs on it, and get to work. You’ll have to convince people for the rest of your life that this is for you anyway. Start with a pitch to your folks.
Research career profiles of people doing what you see yourself doing. Investigate what their journeys were like. You may find that they also did not enjoy a clear-cut path to success. Social media is a perfect place to surround yourself with the world you wish to be a part of when you graduate. Check out my post on Twitter accounts you should follow Numbers 8 and 9 cover this especially.
Remember that our parents come from a different time where they were taught that there was one specific path to a specific job/career, and that would be the end of that. Now, the number of unemployed people with coveted degrees in our current day and age shows we require a new kind of maneuvering. It’s all about “skills” now. There are people with degrees in Biology who get accepted to law school and History majors in medical school. This kind of candidate is actually desired. Literally, anything is possible with planning and strategy. You can carve out space for yourself anywhere.
When what you love requires more education: I knew when I entered college that I would at least be going for a Masters because I wanted to be a teacher. But when I thought about the PhD I was suddenly faced with new things to consider. Now, I was faced with 5+ years of school beyond the Bachelors. Some people enter undergrad thinking that 4 year investment will be it. But ish happens. Sometimes that BA takes longer because you changed your mind in the 9th hour, or life fudged up Plan A. Otherwise, like me, you realize that what you really want to do requires more sacrifice than you originally intended.
All in all, the only thing that will survive the changes concerning your future is your passion. Your main responsibility is to do justice to what you’re passionate about by putting the work in to see it come to fruition.
Arrange your education around your passion. Not vice versa.