Don’t Let Slacker Guilt Bring You Down

As a creative writing major, I’m extremely lucky to have parents who didn’t scoff at getting the arty side of a liberal arts education. My parents are voracious readers who have a high level of respect for the arts, and as a result they can be happy for me, even when my class schedule looks distinctly impractical.

Love in the Novel

Nabokov

Intro to Buddhist Thought

These are the kind of classes my parents put up with throughout my college career, with nary an Econ class to be found among the lot.

Many students feel a lot of pressure, however, to take classes that will turn around into the best profit. They know their parents are dropping some major Benjamins to keep them in a good school, and they want to return the favor by, at the very least, not making their parents go gray worrying that their children will be living in a box on the street. So they take Econ and finance classes. They try to become good little doctors and lawyers and I-bankers.

But most of the people I know taking that path aren’t particularly happy doing it.

Sometimes I begin to feel that creeping Slacker Guilt. You know, the worry that I’m only taking lightweight courses that won’t lead to a career. That I’m squandering my parents’ money, happily off dancing through English and artsy-fartsy classes. I begin to feel like maybe I should just put my head down and grind through a few teeth-gritting courses like Decision-Making in Finance, just so I won’t feel like I’ve got my head in the clouds all the time. I see other english majors being struck with Slacker guilt, too. Creative writers taking on extra-burdensome course loads and classes that have bad professors and uninspired reading lists, just because they think they should.

It just doesn’t….fit.

I know that it makes sense to take these “practical” courses, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. College is about exploring new things and learning the things you want to learn. Sure, it is also about working towards a career, but if you don’t like what you are studing in Econ 101, you are not going to like working for a large finance firm for the next 60 years (or until it goes under). Especially if you only did it to appease the parentals.

I’m proposing a bold new interpretation of the keep-the-parents-happy rule. Above all, your parents want you to be happy. Honestly, it seems to me that life’s too short to waste twenty or more years of it on a career path that makes you groan inside. There is a better life out there, doing something you feel passionate and excited about. Even if it means making a few less bucks, I say go for it.

At the very least, spend your college years being excited by your classes. You can do the more practical stuff later. Med schools like admitting English majors, honestly, because they’re well-versed in the world and they know how to write, which is an invaluable skill in just about any profession. So take a little joy in your education, and worry about paying the bills just a little bit later.

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