Truthfully, all I want to be for the rest of my life is a storyteller. That’s it. I’m not a comparative literature major and pre-med, pre-law and probably not even pre-graduate school. I just get fascinated whenever I discover nuanced differences between translated works and the original or when I learn about the existential crises that fictional characters endure throughout lengthy novels. These are the things that make me the happiest. But as a junior, I frequently worry that I should spend more time learning about Pascal than Pushkin. I haven’t taken a single politics or economics course, and the only reason I’ve taken any math or science is due to the general education requirements. Coming to Princeton, I swore to myself that I would never enroll in a course that I didn’t have to take; I would only enroll in classes that interested me. But now that I’m an upperclassman, worrying about internships and independent research, I caught myself skimming over the course registrar list, struggling to find a politics or economics course to take.
“What would an employer think if he or she saw my junior fall courses?” I thought, as I looked over my foreign language, religion and junior seminar classes. How is that practical? There’s no doubt that I love what I do, but there is doubt that whomever I come in contact with — whether it’s an employer, a new friend or a family friend — will commend the path that I choose, regardless of whether it’s a traditional route.
And I cannot wholeheartedly blame the University for influencing students to rank more “practical” paths, such as pre-med and pre-law, as having more worth than majors in humanities because this is a societal problem. To be an artist is synonymous with being broke. Many will try, but few will make it. An artist’s income is usually not consistent. At least if I were to go into i-banking, I could guarantee that I’d get a paycheck and not live off of commission. I cannot blame that family member either, because no one wants to see a loved one struggle. But who says that I will struggle? Why does this stereotype still persist?
I guess I’m still a bit disillusioned with this whole notion of being “practical.” As a child, I was supposed to believe in my dreams and work hard to get them. As a teenager, I felt as though I was being taught to believe in my dreams and work hard to get them but to have a back-up plan. Now, as an upperclassman in college, I feel like I’m being taught to work hard, believe in practical dreams and then believe in the impossible during my spare time. Frankly, there are moments when I feel like I’ll go far and other moments I’m scared that I’m going to end up back home or working in a cubicle at a company that I hate, but at least I can keep the lights on and food on the table. There are so many moments when I wonder: What the heck am I doing with my life?
What am I doing? Well, I’m doing what I believe I’m supposed to be doing — pursuing my passion relentlessly. Yes, the road is not defined and may be even be a little unclear, but great discoveries usually reveal themselves along paths that have never been trodden. And maybe that Woody Woo major was right: Maybe I will be discovering the meaning of life — my life, in particular. That’s all I can say for right now.
Morgan Jerkins is a comparative literature major from Williamstown, N. J. She can be reached at email@example.com.