essay

Choosing majors and careers

I think we can get caught up in trying to find jobs and careers and a life that is perfect for people. There is a myth that you should have a dream and work towards your dream and live happily ever after. That’s not how life works. People fail. Dreams crumble. The real world is messy and complicated.

I feel like a lot of people, maybe most people, simply land in their careers and their life instead of carefully picking everything out. I was supposed to be a writer, but now I’m looking at completely different opportunities and learning about economics and business (and mostly, I’m a full-time mom). My dad was supposed to be an engineer, and then he ended up in college administration. My husband was supposed to be a wildlife biologist, and he ended up in park management. My sister was supposed to be a filmmaker (she still might be), but right now she’s a store manager. I even knew of an anesthesiologist who became a UPS driver after developing allergies.

I think it matters me how hard you work in the opportunities you have than finding the perfect opportunities for you.

I’m currently getting another undergraduate degree in economics and I have rethought my choice quite a lot. Do I really want to do this? Does it fit me? But I don’t have to find the perfect path. Good enough is good enough. I’ve learned about Nobel-prize winning economists that have had strange pathways into their fields: One admitted he was lazy and unmotivated and people didn’t expect much of him. Another had an education in psychology. They didn’t really intend to go into economics and succeed; they just landed there. No one fits exactly into a field, and that’s okay.

Sometimes we follow paths that other people choose for us, like the kid who learned how to play the cello because his parents were both professional cellists. He was really good at it. Sometimes we find our pathway by chance: one person literally pulled a random folder out of a filing cabinet and decided that she would major in engineering because she couldn’t make a decision. She became a successful engineer.

There are going to be times when we are bored and unsatisfied, but the best thing to do is to keep working and trying even when things aren’t working out quite right. Try to help other people. Try to learn new things. Ask questions. Embrace your talents and apply them to whatever opportunities you have.

Don’t worry too much about what field you go into and if you’ve found the perfect job. Just be the best person you can be and things will work out.

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