“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way
to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle.
As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.“
- Steve Jobs.
We know how it goes; the three events that mark one’s entrance into the ‘real’ world, that is: High School, College, Graduation. After we finally leave our formal educations behind us, it’s time to use what we’ve learned to make a living, and maybe one day even make a difference in the world around us using our knowledge.
That’s all well and good, but in the steps to reach the real world, many of us face the challenge of deciding what we actually want to do and what we want to focus our educations on. Although high school is only the brink of what will be the rest of our lives, many students question what kind of education they should pursue and what they should start dedicating their time to. What I find unfortunate, however, is that the tough economy has induced a kind of negativity towards the humanities. Compared to the sciences, humanities jobs seem to pay less (unless you’re the best of the best at what you do, of course) and just seem less practical overall. For example, a post I saw recently on Facebook induced both a laugh and a nod of sympathy from me:
Mom’s Co-Worker: “So what are you interested in doing after completing college?”
Me: “I want to listen to, make, & play music all day. All day every day.”
Mom’s Co-Worker: “No I mean like, as in a job or something.”
Money does dictate how you may live your life, but it doesn’t mean how happy you are if you don’t let it. It’s seems unreasonable to want to have a job along the lines of an artist, musician, or even a historian. Many will challenge you: What will you do, being an performer? How can you survive in such a competitive field? But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen, and it most never means that there is only one kind of occupation that suits your skills.
It’s amazing for me to see what students at schools like Orange Country High School of the Arts and the San Diego School of the Creative and Performing Arts do. Students in these schools are creating a different type of happiness, that comes from hard work and doing something that they love. Getting an education during the economic downturn produces an understandable attitude of caution towards jobs and subjects like the performing arts or journalism; after all, what would you do if you spent years on an education that couldn’t get you a job? It’s a risk to make, but I still believe that if there’s something that you are truly passionate about, it’s a risk worth making.
Another recent article that piqued my interest was this “The 13 Most Useless Majors” on the Daily Beast.
Is it a coincidence that most of the jobs on that list are all humanities related? No. Is it ironic that this piece was written by a journalist? Sadly, yes.
All I have to say is that students should choose what makes them happiest doing. If they don’t choose to pick a job out of love, but choose a job that they can do well and prosper from, I have no reason to protest. Everybody has their own choice to make between the humanities and sciences, and there is no sense in saying that one is better than the other.
What’s important is to not force yourself to do anything you don’t want to. As Steve Jobs said, your occupation is a “matter of the heart”. It’s not wrong to not want to be a doctor and make concrete discoveries or create immediately tangible work in your occupation. Although the economy seems daunting now, I don’t believe it’s too idealistic to say that wealth of the soul trumps wealth in the bank any day.
Susan Lin is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. Although she was born in Brooklyn, New York, she’s an all California girl. Currently on her journey through high school, Susan wants to become more involved with the world and community around her while pursuing her dreams of journalism and design.