Column: Passion over practicality


Carson Lewis

Senior Anna Stockton shares her thoughts about the decisions she has made for her college career.

For high school juniors and seniors, no matter the conversation, no matter the situation, the questions always seem to come up.

You know the ones.

You’re sitting at the dinner table with your grandparents, standing at the mailbox with neighbors, or lounging in a coffee shop with your aunt and uncle– it can happen anytime, anywhere –when amidst your casual conversation, as if by magic or perhaps some cruel twist of fate, the topic inevitably steers toward college and your future beyond it.

“What are you majoring in?”

“What do you want to be?”

It’s dangerous territory, but you hold steady. These are not inherently bad questions. It could all be an innocent inquiry from caring friends or family members, so hesitantly, you respond.

“Art history. I want to be a museum curator.”

There’s a shared look– pursed lips, furrowed brows. You can practically see the disapproval hanging in the air. It’s palpable. Silence sits for a moment. Just a moment. Then, the dreaded questions begin.

“I didn’t know that was an option.”

“Is that really practical?”

“Can you even get a job with that?”

They mean well, but you can feel the self-consciousness begin to rise up in your gut. You teeter nervously on your heels as you try to explain what your major entails, how it’s something you’re really interested in it, and how, yes, you can get a job with it. They smile and nod, but you can sense the judgment oozing off of them.

There’s this insane pressure in high school to know who we are when we’ve barely lived a fraction of our lives. And when we find something we love, something we want to spend the rest of our lives doing, there’s an expectation that has to be safe.

People are going to tell you to choose something practical, to aim for a high salary, to put all your focus on securing a safe future for yourself. That’s all well and good advice if that’s what you really want in life, but there comes a time when you have to stop listening to what’s “practical” and start chasing the things that make you happy.

When it’s all said and done, all that matters is your happiness and contentedness with your life. Money and status don’t mean anything if you’re miserable, so find something you’re passionate about and chase it. Forget about salaries and expectations– find the life you want to build for yourself, and pursue it like you’ve never pursued anything before.

Even if you don’t know what exactly it is that you’re passionate about, take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to know. In this moment, you don’t have to have everything figured out. You are young and have the potential to be and do so many incredible things, so take a deep breathe and let yourself take things day by day. There will come a time when you realize what you’re meant to do, and it’s okay if that day is not today, this week, or even this year. Eventually, everything will fall into place. You just have to have patience and trust in what you’re passionate about.