Reader's Rant is a series of posts in which I rant and rage about things (usually pertaining to books) that make me feel like I'm going to explode from frustration. It isn't a weekly of monthly thing, it just shows up when I experience something that really grinds my gears. Hope you enjoy!
"Oh, you're going off to college? That's wonderful!" said an anonymous family member/friend/stranger.
I laughed awkwardly and felt the way my cheeks heated and my lips stretched. "Yeah, thanks! I'm really excited about it."
"So," they asked, leaning in closer and grinning, "what do you plan to study?"
I hesitated, knowing what was about to come. But maybe...maybe this one would be different. Maybe they would understand. "Um, I want to study English. Creative Writing, actually."
Their eyes widened and they jerked back in surprise, struggling to keep the now plastic smile from slipping from their face. Here it comes... "So...you want to be a teacher, right?" Their fingers fidgeted on their sweating glass of water.
WRONG. "No, I actually want to go into publishing. Maybe be a literary agent or an editor. It'd be cool to publish my own books someday, too." Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.
Their face pinched and their nose wrinkled in distaste. I could see the way their eyes skipped from my head to my toes skeptically. I could see the way the protests beat steadily at their locked lips. The smile slipped. "Oh...well, do you have a backup?"
And that's about the time that my head explodes from pure frustration.
I feel like this is a problem for all "unconventional" study paths and career ideas. You want to be an artist? Oh, but you do know how hard it is to make it in that industry, right? You're studying to be an actress? What's your real job going to be? Oh, you want to earn a degree in English? So you're definitely going to be a teacher.
As a newly dubbed high school graduate who will be attending a university this fall, I've been getting the whole "what are you going to do with your future" question a lot lately. And when I say a lot, I mean A. LOT. And hey, I don't mind. I mean, it is my future we're talking about. I'm kind of excited about it so I can basically go on for hours and tell you all the awesome things I plan to do. But when I tell you be goals and dreams for the future and you respond with something as negative as "do you have a backup?", I'm not going to want to talk to you about it anymore! Already, just by asking that question, you have proved to me that you do not believe in me to achieve that goal. You doubt my ability to work hard enough to become what I want to become in life.
Look, chances are, if someone says they want to pursue a career in a certain field, they know how slim the chances are of success in that field. I know publishing isn't an industry that I'm positive I'll get a shot to work in and I sure as hell know that becoming an author is even harder. Trust me, I know. I've done my research. And I still think I can do it. If I didn't think I could do it, trust me, I wouldn't be preparing to study for years and years and years in order to be successful in it. But I seriously believe that I can do this.
And, trust me, I understand. The people who say these things are not trying to be mean or cynical
I hope they are just trying to look out for what is best for me. They want to make sure I'm on the path to success. But - listen when I tell you this - I'm going to be so much more successful pursuing something that I am passionate about and that I love than pursuing something just because it's "easier" or the industry is more "stable". And hey, who knows, I might find out in college that I do want to teach or become a lawyer or a doctor (but that's not likely because blood and the like makes me sick). But right now and for the foreseeable future, my dream is to become an editor/literary agent/author. And that's how it's going to stay.
Do any of you have experience dealing with this situation? How does it make you feel? More determined to reach your goals, perhaps? :) Tell me what you think in the comments below!