Last weekend I decided to feed the nostalgia freak inside and put on Disney’s High School Musical.Between reciting each line word for word and putting on dance performances for every song, I started to think about the message the movie relayed.
Most children’s programs emphasize the importance of following your dreams. They encourage you to be whoever you want to be despite the backlash that you receive from others. They say “the sky is the limit.”
That is, until they start to limit you themselves.
As an impressionable nine-year-old when High School Musical premiered, the musical numbers, flashy costumes and teen-dream love story between the main characters star struck me. I couldn’t consider the crucial component of the plot: erasing the fear of being whoever you want to be.
I found it amusing and somewhat ridiculous that the entire school put on a cafeteria musical number to stop the main characters from singing in a school play. But the reasoning behind it rang clear. The overall message went right over my head as a child, but this time it stared me directly in the eye. And it resonated with the number one challenge that’s plagued me throughout my college career.
Somewhere along the winding path to adulthood, I forgot who I wanted to be. Or maybe I never even knew. Either way, I was forced to make a decision upon high school graduation before I could even find out.
Walking across the stage to receive my diploma felt like I fell over the edge of a cliff and straight into a dark pit of obscurity. Everyone else already found their path. Coming into college, I could no longer avoid making the decision that would supposedly determine the rest of my life.
Finding a solid link between my interests and a future sustainable career felt like finding middle ground in politics during the 2016 election…there really wasn’t one. Everything that I considered myself good at fell into the category of majors that didn’t lead to success.
“An English degree doesn’t matter,” they said. I was wasting money on a major that I didn’t need to go to school for four years.
I let people tell me that I should choose a major for the sole purpose of profit, not because I loved it.
Thus began my failed attempt into business classes before venturing into the communications field (perceived as the biggest joke on my campus).
At least I attempted something conventional like advertising.
That’s what I tried to convince myself…until that fell apart too.
I decided to pursue a major in journalism. It became evident that I couldn’t avoid the path that I felt destined for: to become a writer. I ran around in circles for the first two years of my undergraduate studies, trying so desperately to conform to someone else’s standard.
And I wasn’t the only one.
College students often say that they aren’t sure about what they want to do for the rest of their lives. We juggle outside pressures from parents and friends. We try to measure up to other people in our lives. It’s easy to choose a major that isn’t true to our hearts.
But a lot of us also watched the same movies as kids. They told us that we could break free and soar, and that there isn’t a star in heaven that we can’t reach. Movies taught us that it’s okay to have multiple passions that might not correlate at all.
And many of us believed in these ideas for a while until the time came to challenge them.
These same concepts instilled in us as children should be just as emphasized now more than ever. Many of our dreams will fail to see the light of day simply because we give up on them before we try to make them happen.
The facts don’t lie. Certain majors lead to better financial stability. We’re all riding the same wave together, trying not to drown in a current called student debt that threatens to take us under.
But we’re also three dimensional people. These three dimensional people possess an array of different passions within us all at the same time. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to pursuing only the one that makes the most money.
Just because Troy Bolton played basketball didn’t mean that he couldn’t sing too. He led his team to championship, and he starred in his school’s musical at the same time.
I love to write, and I always have. If I ditched that dream in favor of something else, I wouldn’t even have the platform to share this story. I also like to dance and sing (albeit not very well.) Nevertheless, all of these passions make up who I am.
Don’t forget all of the talents and aspirations that make up you when choosing a major. Sometimes the career that we fall into doesn’t fall in line with the slip of paper we earn. Instead they might come from the passions that make living every single day worth living.