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Leave My Major (and Me) Alone

When you’re a twenty-something-year-old in college, you endure the same repetitive interrogation from strangers in passing on a regular basis. It’s just a simple way to strike up conversation, I guess. And it always goes a little something like this:

“Oh, you’re in college? Where do you go? And what’s your major?” 

If you’re anything like me, you’ve constructed and memorized a scripted response to these questions. I am always happy to share my experience with those who ask and love to chat. However, what has been detrimental to me and my willingness to share these things about myself are the negative responses I’ve received when I replied, “I’m majoring in Communications.” 

One stranger responded with an outburst of, “No! Don’t do it!” and continued to inform me that one, I wouldn’t make any money in that field and two, they had suffered long enough in it to know that I needed to pick something else. Yeah, that one felt good. 

Another rolled their eyes when I gave them my spiel. 

“And what do you want to be? A bartender?” they scoffed. 

This one genuinely hurt my feelings for a number of reasons. First, their implication that bartending is either an easy job or one that lacks sophistication was extremely ignorant. Second, the fact that they could stand there, minutes after meeting me for the first time, and roll their eyes at me after I shared with them my college career and life choices? Ouch. 

I wish it wasn’t true, but these types of responses have caused me to doubt my decisions and myself in a way that makes me wonder if I’m doing it all wrong. While I am fully aware that I am in no way taking the easy route, these huffs and puffs of responses do make me feel that way for a moment. I forget, though, that they don’t see the hard work that I (and other Communications majors) put into our schooling. They don’t know how passionate I am about succeeding in college and pursuing a career that will fulfill and make me happy in the long run. They don’t know that I love everything about journalism, writing, editing, broadcast and media production, or that I wouldn’t be satisfied in any other field. No, they hear ‘Communications’ and immediately assume that I’m in college to mess around and do nothing for four years. Well, joke’s on them because I maintain a healthy balance of both schoolwork and play every day. But really, what gave them the right to make me and my studies feel entirely inadequate?

If I had thicker skin (I’m working on it), these comments wouldn’t have gotten me so down in the dumps as easily as they did. But I shouldn’t be responsible for preparing for responses like these. This is my life and my career we’re talking about. Need I remind you that you’re the one who brought this topic of discussion up? I didn’t open this line of conversation and I sure didn’t engage in it expecting to be looked down upon.

Unfortunately, it took reminding from those around me that people will criticize any and everything that comes out of our mouths. In my eyes, it was a personal attack when I disclosed that information about myself only to be laughed at and urged to make any other decision out there. But in reality, those strangers would have found a way to ridicule my decision if I had told them that I wanted to be a rocket scientist. This is what I had to be reminded of in order to pick my head up and carry on. 

So let me be the voice of defense and reason for anybody who has been made to feel inferior for their college path. I empathize with you. But, you are in the right place and nobody can tell you otherwise. There may always be an entitled voice of deterrence that makes you question everything, but nobody can tell you what’s right or wrong for you in terms of pursuing a fulfilling college career and future.

Haley Sakuma is a senior at University of Missouri-Kansas City studying communications with an emphasis in journalism and interpersonal communication. She is one of the Campus Correspondents for the UMKC chapter of Her Campus, and her favorite articles to write are blog-style with a personal touch of humor.
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