Disgraceful degrees and disrespect: dealing with criticisms against your major

By Casey Niebuhr | gargoyle@flagler.edu

When most of us were younger, chances are we aspired to be in occupations dedicated to politics, medicine, or law. By high school we had no idea what we wanted to be—our perspective of the world and our perceptions on such occupations altered. While I was applying to colleges last year, I came to what is perhaps the largest obstacle that lies in the path of college-readiness: choosing my major.

Deciding what I would do for the rest of my life—my career path for eternity—made me want to rip my hair out. It was a very stressful time, and, for some, still is stressful, as we have an idea of what we want to accomplish in our lives, but haven’t an inkling on how to accomplish it.

I began looking at areas in which I had excelled throughout high school: English, history courses, public speaking, etc., but I still was not able to go with a true instinctual feeling of what I thought was right. Yes, I was passionate about the subjects I excelled at; but I didn’t feel I was prepared to do it for the next few decades.

As I was stuck at what seemed to be this dead-end, with the pressure of my superiors’ voices echoing “you must choose a major” in my ear, I decided to rethink my methods of my college planning. Instead of deciding what I wanted to do with my life, I began to think of what I wanted to do—what I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime.

My end-goal, put simply, would require me to make sacrifices. I would have to be put through brutal and depressing challenges in order to achieve what I wanted; and all I want is to make a difference. I want to be an influencer. I want to help people, guide them, and, ultimately, save someone. Now I could begin my career-path.

My next step was to take the areas in which I was passionate in and my goal to somehow combine them into a career. The old saying, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” is the fundamental ideal I want to live by. What’s the point of being miserable for 40 hours a week to only obtain money that, in the end, won’t result in happiness? We live in a society that is driven by materialism where money makes it all go round, but it’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness.

Granted, I am aware that money can solve problems; but money cannot foster development that people need. You need to learn how to live and be happy with what you are given in order to appreciate the true value of your assets. We mustn’t live for the benefits of our society, but instead live for how we can benefit society.

In order to benefit my society, whether it be local or global, I would somehow have to give back. Being an influencer in the English or historical fields didn’t seem too promising when I first began, but I settled on being a teacher or college professor. I want to share the knowledge that I learn with other people; young people who are full of potential and open-minded to what the world has in store. I want to not only teach lessons on academics, but to teach lessons that will carry on in the lives in my students.

The occupation of the educational field, however, in my experience, is not what society wants their future-leaders to aspire to be a part of. Whenever I have shared my occupational goals, I have only received responses of masked disappointment, and the occasional direct-ignorance of distaste. On one occasion, an elderly man told me I’d “never be respected.”

The truth is, no matter what occupation you’re in, you’ll always be disrespected by someone. There will always be someone who will go against your aspirations and stand in your way, or disapprove of what you are attempting to accomplish.

Law enforcement will be disrespected until someone needs saving.

Lawyers will be criticized until someone needs to be defended.

Journalists will be chastised until people need news.

Teachers will be disrespected until someone needs to learn.

No matter what you decide to do with your life, there will always be someone who stands in the way of your success. You must overcome that barrier of disrespect from others to achieve your purpose in life.

Determine what you want to accomplish and use that goal to connect with your passions. If you’re unsure about what you wish to major in, that’s OK. If you want to change your major, that’s OK, too. Be your own influencer, and you can influence others the way that makes you happy. Happiness will always come to those who never have to work a day in their lives.

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