Your major doesn’t define you

Alessandro Woodbridge

I am one of the rare few that had considered the possibility of trying a major in every school that Quinnipiac University offers.

This would explain why, for nearly two years, I was undecided. I was also serious about my considerations, too, even taking classes in them with the intention of potentially declaring this as my major.

I went from College of Arts and Science, to thinking about psychology as my major, then to thinking about an Italian minor, to considering biomedical science as my major, making this my minor instead and then eventually, begrudgingly declaring on the broad major that is management.

Then again, I’m writing for The Chronicle, so why on earth am I a business major if I really enjoy being creative and writing articles based on opinions, ideas and thoughts which do not really implement the ‘business way of thinking’?

Hopefully this can relate to a lot of you, whether that’s in a small way or not.

That’s because it’s okay to have interests outside of your major, even though sometimes it can feel like they are completely unrelated to your degree.

A degree can often make you feel that whatever your focus is defines the kind of person you are or you can feel triangulated into following a path even though you’re still not entirely sure with the direction you’re headed.

This feeling stems from when we were kids and were asked that same question over and over again ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’

We’ve been asked this question since young. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very innocent question, but when we are repeatedly asked this throughout our lives, it becomes a pattern; a pattern in which we feel that we must have a path and that people should have an idea of what they want to do.

Simply not knowing doesn’t seem to be good enough as everyone else around you seems to have a better clarification on what they want to do.

Has the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ caused you to feel anxious at some point in your life?

Sometimes people stick with a major or an old hobby because they’ve already devoted so much time, energy and money (especially with college) into it but not necessarily because they enjoy it.

I think that to change one’s interest and to become uncommitted to something you don’t enjoy anymore can also cause anxiety.

You feel that you’ve suddenly detached yourself from a big opportunity or possibility, or it may be just that you feel like it’s added another brick to the wall blocking the path to a future.

You feel you have to subdue or put aside all your other potential passions and you have to be bored and carry on with something that you may not particularly enjoy anymore or you feel like you’re taking the degree because something in you compels you to take the degree in the promise of this prospective future and that it looks good on your resume.

Is there something wrong with you if you’re unable to stick with anything?

I’ve been bouncing off the subject a lot, and I can imagine it’s causing anxiety just reading all of this, but this is all exactly how I felt up until my junior year.

I had no idea what I wanted to do and it caused me so much anxiety. I honestly felt like something was wrong with me because I couldn’t stick with anything and I was afraid to. I was incredibly scared of the feeling of being limited when I graduate college as a result of whichever degree I choose. I was worried this said something about me as a person, that I am uncommitted and that after college I am just going to be unsure of myself.

Then I realized I couldn’t be more wrong. This notion that I have to be one thing as opposed to many things stemmed from when we were kids. It’s the world’s culture.

That innocent question ‘what do you want to be when you’re older?’ doesn’t sound so innocent anymore, does it? But that question doesn’t come in such simple forms. In fact, there are a variety of ways this is said, like ‘what is your major going to be when you graduate college?’ Even though the innocent questions could inspire people to dream about what they could be, it doesn’t inspire people to dream about all they could be.

This idea of one true calling or people finding out what they’re destined to do is highly emphasized within our culture. As if we are all venturing out in the world to find out the job that has been calling for us.

We are not all wired this way, most people don’t want to be put down in this kind of framework and it’s not being ‘too liberal’ to think like this either as we are playing with something far greater, we are juggling with how we want our stories to be written.

If you feel like you do not fit into this pattern, don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re a multipotentialite.

A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and pursuits, according to Wapnick.

One of many things Wapnick describes about when to talking about multipotentialites is that they can use idea synthesis to combine two or more disciplines and incorporate this into something different and potentially something greater.

However, even though many of you reading this now may feel comfortable in knowing that you’re not alone and that it’s okay to be this ‘multipotentialite,’ in the back of your mind you may also feel that this is unrealistic, especially in the job world as you may need a lot of money to pursue all of these ventures and ambitions you want to do.

You will need a lot of money. So how can a multipotentialite adapt in this world where money is a controlling factor in everyday life?

If you want to, you can, but you don’t have to do that. It is still easy and normal to live with this beautiful, liberal characteristic you have.

You hold a day job, are involved in business or something that allows you to stimulate your creativity and continue to broaden your horizons. You could also work in one field for a few/several years and then work in an entirely new field for another couple of years.

Employers are looking for people who have a variety of skills and value people even more with the experience they have in other fields as they know that they can provide a wealth of knowledge from their background, which emphasizes how leaving one job after several years, certainly doesn’t make you any less employable.

This is just to let everyone know it’s actually good to be unsure about one’s major, future, or even the direction of their life on the whole, and to quote Dr Seuss:

‘You’re off to Great Places,

Today is your Day […] Oh, the Places You’ll Go.’