From the moment I began going to school, college was in my future.
I’m sure this is similar to a lot of people’s academic careers as well. You go to elementary and middle school, then graduate. You go to high school, then graduate. Finally, you go to college and you guessed it – graduate.
In that time, you’re told that the all-nighters for exam preparation, almost pulling your hair out in anxiety studying for a subject you’re terrible in, and waking up at 5:50 a.m. to be out of the house by 6:20 a.m., is for a good job. All in all, you go to college to simply get a good job.
I’ve heard these words spoken to me in conversation countless times by family, friends, and complete strangers. It always felt like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The beginning of being an adult ready to use the knowledge your academic pursuits granted you. It felt like a guarantee. Graduating college equals a good job.
Now as a fifth-year-student at Fresno State, I’m not so sure about that.
I worry for my future after college because nothing is guaranteed. Working as hard as I can to be academically successful will not always translate into my success in the workforce. A large amount of my concern for the future stems from choosing to be an art major.
I’ve come to realize over time that myself and many of my peers who major in art are often viewed in a different light than students who pursue degrees in professions that are regarded with a higher profile in society. Parents often encourage their children to pursue degrees in medicine, law, and business. Art is then deemed more of a hobby than a viable career. I remember a specific instance of my own parents telling me that I can be artistic while also working a full time job.
As you can imagine, this did wonders for my anxiety and self-esteem.
Guilt sets in almost immediately after I talk to my parents about what I do in college. It’s a deep rooted shame that I constantly feel when I think of how I’m repaying their hopes for my college education. Here I am making pretty pictures funded by loans I can’t hope to pay anytime soon once I graduate.
Coming to school some days can feel bleak. I know what I want my future to be, but will I ever get there? In times like these, I take a deep breath and tell myself that I’m not alone. There are people who feel the same way as I do regardless of their major or age. Knowing every bit of my future is impossible and doing what I love each day should be celebrated. Still, accepting my reality has definitely been a struggle.
In the grand scheme of things, a career in art can be precarious. Making money is entirely reliant on people enjoying your work enough to buy it and your services, but it’s still possible to have a future in it. The possibility of a future is what drives me. Well, it drives me alongside the intense desire to prove that I am worthy of making it.
There are times I think about how college could have been if I had not been an art major and then I realize I would have regretted every second of missing out on the unique experiences it’s provided me. I am understood by like-minded people and have flourished under the guidance of teachers who no doubt faced the same concerns I feel today.
In truth, art is what I am best at. My talents are connected to creativity and there is no shame in this. To any of my fellow art majors or aspiring artists, I wish you the best of luck and know that you are understood and appreciated. Life would be dull without us.