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College taught me to live for myself

“What’s your major?” used to one of my least favorite small talk questions. When I answer with “journalism,” it elicits mixed reviews. Some people are quick to respond, while others pause before offering a reply.

Those who pause are typically south Asian. I understand completely – I’m Indian myself, so I know that it’s a surprise. It’s not the standard major of choice for people in my ethnic group. Many of us become health care professionals.

When I was in high school, I didn’t think I’d stray away from that norm. Because of my ethnicity, I felt obligated to enter the healthcare field. But when I started college, I panicked. I had a short amount of time to choose the major that would dictate my college career and – to an extent – the possible career paths for the rest of my life. It’s possible to change majors. But I knew my parents wouldn’t want me to do so, due to the possibility of it lengthening the amount of time it would take for me to graduate. So, my first major was going to be my only major.

As it settles in that I will receive a degree in journalism next week, I’ve realized that college taught me to live for myself. I’ve adopted a “yeah, what of it?” sort of attitude towards those who disapprove of my major. I don’t need to seek the approval of others. It’s impossible to please everyone, anyways.

Studying journalism has taken me through many paths. I’ve interviewed television stars, authors, musicians, a poet and business owners. I’ve gained much insight and I’ve realized that you can learn a lot if you just listen. I’m grateful for the people I’ve interviewed and their willingness to share their stories with me.

If I hadn’t had the courage to major in journalism, I would have missed out on those experiences.

Journalism is crucial for any society. It holds people accountable. It amplifies voices that would be otherwise buried. It keeps people informed. It’s been a privilege to be a part of that.

I plan to continue to live for myself. My life is just that – mine. And I’ll do whatever I want with it.