Are You Truly Passionate About Your College Major?

College is supposed to be about discovering oneself and discovering one's true passion, as a degree gives an individual the foundation for future success and endeavors. But why do so many people often link the idea of college to a burden, and as an unenjoyable waste of time and money as they regurgitate information until the day they walk the stage? Through talking to multiple students around campus, I've come to the conclusion that the issue does not lie within college itself, but rather the path which students take when declaring their major and if they view their choice as heartfelt or just a checkbox on a resume. 

I was with my friend Will on a casual Tuesday night vibing to music, and then all of a sudden, this boy belts out the lyrics of "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars. I take a step back, look at him astonished, and express my shock. "Woah, I never knew you sang like that. Do you sing?" I asked. "No, but I absolutely love music," he says, and then proceeds to go on a tangent of a never-ending list of why music makes him happy. I look him right in the eyes and ask, "Will then why the hell are you majoring in business? Do you see yourself right now, and how happy music makes you?" He proceeded to say that as much as he loves music, he was influenced by his parents to take a safer route instead of following his passion.  

Originally, I was going to do a safer major as well and succumb to society's pressure, but my mom sat me down one day and asked why I would do the same thing as everyone else and study something I don't enjoy just to please society's idea of what will make you successful. She told me that college is about finding the thing you love, and building a resume that makes you stand out to an employer, and having something special to offer—not being the same as every other college graduate in the world. I took that same advice and shared with Will the millions of reasons why I believe you should always do what you're passionate about because this is your life: not your friends', not your parents', and not society's.  

Letterboard - Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production from Unsplash

I sat down with Will and researched the endless opportunities he has in the music industry and looked into the majors he can study at VCU that align with his passion. Luckily for him, VCU has one of the best art schools in the United States, so maybe him going to this school had a bigger purpose than he thought. It wasn't until this conversation that he finally realized it. Once I convinced him, he agreed to contact his academic advisor to see about changing his minor and potentially even his major. His entire face lit up when I was convincing him to follow his dream. He was like a kid the night before Christmas, eager to unravel the presents his future has to offer. 

After that night with Will, our conversation had me thinking about how many other college students are in his situation and are passionate about their dreams but are too scared to chase them because of the pressures of today's society and their parents' opinions. I decided to talk to several students around campus and take a poll on how many students are internally passionate about their major versus how many were influenced by external factors instead. I asked about 100 students their thoughts on their major, and I found out that more than half of them are either unsure, unenthusiastic or have regretful thoughts about their choice. Some students' responses included "I'm just confused," "I'm only doing it to be rich," or "my parents want me to do this, and I'm regretting my decision already." One young man even said that he only chose his major because "there are a lot of females in it." This made me laugh in the moment, but I'm sure in a couple of years, he will look back and not be the one laughing anymore. This goes to show the power external factors have over students and their decisions, which is concerning considering a choice of major can set up the foundation for an individual's future. 

In my opinion, abundance does not lie within the amount of money an individual obtains but the quality and joy of the life that they have created. When a person feels fulfilled in their life and is passionate about what they do, they radiate that energy back into the world and it can be felt by those around them. On a deathbed, an individual doesn't tend to care about the amount of money in their bank account, but the memories they have created and the memories of the joy of waking up every day to do something they loved while feeling as if they had a sense of purpose on earth. Way too many people are wrapped around the idea of going through the motions of life with the goal of being rich, although is one really rich and abundant if they genuinely don't enjoy the thing they wake up to do every day they are alive? Certainly, people can still do the thing they love and be extremely successful, but my point is that it's not always about the dollar bills that they carry in their hand, but about the memories and experiences that they carry in their hearts for the rest of their lives.  

If you are someone that has a passion you want to follow and haven't had someone motivate you yet as I did for Will, as cliche as it sounds, I'm here to tell you to follow your dreams and to never back down. Everyone only has one lifetime, and I wouldn't want to see anyone missing an opportunity because of societal pressures or external influences that no longer serve them. I hope that this resonates with someone out there, and if that's you, I hope that you can take this advice and chase after the thing you've always desired to do. I believe in you, and believe that with enough dedication and passion, anyone is capable of creating the future of their wildest dreams. With the start of each day, every individual waking up has two options: they can either sleep in and experience the dreams they have in their sleep, or they can get out of bed and chase those dreams until they turn into a reality.