Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

How to Handle Relatives that Question Your Major

  “What are you going to do with that?”. *cue the awkward pause in conversation*

  “Is that really practical?”. *forks scrape empty plates at an annoyingly resounding pitch*

  “Hmm….that’s interesting.” *cue the side-eye and head nod that makes you feel like a five year old*

    You are probably familiar with some variation of these interactions when the topic at a family gathering shifts to jobs or “real life.” In these moments it can seem like every eye is staring right at you, the college student whose still just trying to figure things out. As a Creative Writing major, I have grown accustomed to the doubt masked with smiles and topic shifts. I am beyond happy with my choice to pursue a degree in something I love, in an environment I thrive in. But that doesn’t stop the tiny voice of doubt from speaking up whenever someone whose opinion matters to me questions the validity of my major; especially when it’s coming from a family member at the dinner table on Thanksgiving. With almost any major, there is bound to be suspicion of worth from someone who really shouldn’t have an opinion on the issue. For young women, this can be especially volatile, because in some career fields (STEM and surgery as just two examples) women are the minority and fighting for a seat at the table. Without people in your corner makes entering a career where you are going to have to work ten times harder for your place (and pay) or have to build up your dream career by hand a significantly more daunting task. Before this holiday season begins, enter these exchanges prepared; not for the benefit of whomever is bringing negativity into your space, but for you. So at the end of the night you can walk away without that little voice of doubt babbling nonsense into your head, because you are a badass babe.

Have those Stats Ready

    Don’t be afraid to do a little research into the statistics and notable figures in your area of study. Equipping yourself with solid proof can be a confidence boost for for some haters, all it takes is tangible evidence for sense to kick in. Not all judgments about your career path come from a place of malice. If it’s coming from a loved one, especially an older individual, then the comment can simply be coming out of love and worry for your success and happiness. Having reliable testimonies can be a source of comfort for them.

Share Your Excitement With Them

    When someone we care about is happy, we become happy for them. If you are going after your passion, it really doesn’t matter what others think. Hopefully, in opening up about your aspirations, your excitement will melt away any lingering suspicions or questions.

Tune Them Out & Move the Conversation Somewhere Else

If you don’t want to talk about your life, that’s a completely valid choice. Family gatherings aren’t supposed to be a witching hour, so don’t be afraid to shift the topic to something more lowkey. Having to decide what you want to be when you grow up is enough without doubts and probing questions from family members. Your major, your degree, is your choice.


All images sourced from: https://unsplash.com/

All gifs sourced from: https://giphy.com/


Jessica Mardian

Virginia Tech '21

Jessica is a senior at Virginia Tech, double majoring in Creative Writing and Multimedia Journalism. 
Similar Reads👯‍♀️