When I was in first grade, I used crayons and construction paper to write stories about puppies and flowers. In fifth grade, I wrote a book. A whole, 70-page book that was the biggest accomplishment of my brief life thus far. In middle school, I wrote short stories, and in high school, I wrote poems.
Writing is in my blood. I thrive on words. I bleed letters. I have been fortunate to have always known what my passion is.
As I grew older, I began to notice that writers don’t usually live the idyllic lives that I had imagined they did. I came to a heartbreaking realization: if I was going to pursue a career in writing, I might not make all that much money.
Still, this never bothered me too much. I was still in grade school, and worrying about making a living was still on the distant horizon.
It was when I came to Tech as a student in Literature, Media, and Communications that I realized that the engineers and computer scientists that surrounded me would be making the big bucks, and I began to get a little insecure. Would some of my classmates really be making six figure salaries in just a few years?
I began to be tempted to alter my career path and choose a degree that might give me more stability and a higher salary. All of a sudden, I was confronted with a difficult decision that I had never even considered before: should I do what I love and potentially struggle with money, or do I subject myself to a career that I might dislike in the interest of having a more financially stable life?
I thought of first-grade-Polly, and how disappointed that little girl would have been be to hear she wouldn’t write for the rest of her life, but do something else instead, something that undoubtedly required a lot more math. How little she cared about math or money, but how much she loved to make up stories. That little girl still lives somewhere inside me, and it is her that I decided to stay true to.
The process of weighing financial success against interest is a difficult one, and it is a struggle that I recognize I am lucky to have. I am fortunate to have parents that encourage me to do what I love instead of forcing me into whatever career path they think is the right one. I am fortunate to have grown up in a society where money was not the first thing I had to worry about, where I can think about what interests me before I had to think about the paycheck.
When I chose a career in liberal arts, I chose to work hard. I willingly opted for the direction that offers me less certainty, but more potential for happiness.
I don’t know whether or not I will reread this editorial some years from now and roll my eyes at my nineteen-year-old naïveté. Perhaps I will take every word of it back and curse my stubborn teenage insistence that money isn’t everything. But for now, I still believe that if I am doing something I love, something I believe will change the world, then everything else will fall into place.