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Don’t settle for safety

| Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I am a horrid procrastinator, and I have a receding hairline. In conclusion, I am one of the least qualified people to give advice, so take what follows with a grain of salt. You have been warned.

My business friend (let’s call him Joe-Bob), majoring specifically in accounting, recently asked me, “What if I don’t want to do accounting for the rest of my life?” He was worried because he was on a track and felt he had no way to reroute his train. Joe-Bob had a high-paying summer internship with a “big-four” accounting firm in their audit department, a pending job offer and the rest of his life mapped out. He would work hard, retire early and then, when he had the time and loads of money, do all of the things he wanted to do now.

My answer to Joe-Bob was, “Then, don’t.” Things aren’t that simple, I guess.

The College of Business is extremely popular at Notre Dame. It has been on a dynastic streak of best undergraduate business school in the country, and it isn’t slowing down. It shouldn’t have to slow down either, because it is so good for the school; but is it good for you?

As a liberal studies major and journalism minor, this isn’t an attack on the business school in order to promote the values of a well-rounded, holistic undergraduate curriculum. That has been done enough, by much more studied and intelligent people than myself. This is merely an example, common to many Notre Dame students, of becoming stuck in what seems to be the best route in life. Whether it be business, English, engineering or pre-med, you should never feel that you have to do something in order to be happy; you should want to do it.

Joe-Bob is a great ceramics artist. I have a number of mugs from him, which look cool and haven’t broken yet (so that’s good news) and I have helped him move boxes and boxes and boxes of stupid-heavy ceramics pieces. Although a burden to my strict, no-lifting-things-more-than-50-pounds policy, I begrudgingly do it, because it is refreshing to see people truly enjoy something. And Joe-Bob truly enjoys ceramics.

Don’t get me wrong, Joe-Bob doesn’t hate his major, but the most I have ever seen him focus are times when he would go to the ceramic studio for hours to finish projects, even when he didn’t have to. He sees ceramics only as a hobby, something he can do when he retires because there really is no money in making pottery. At least not enough money to have a solid portfolio and to travel around the world and have nice things and be financially stable and retire comfortably. But what are all of those things if you are miserable the whole time? Why can’t Joe-Bob open his own studio, do what he loves and use his business knowledge to improve his business? Why must you stay the course if the course isn’t the right one for you?

There is a problem when you put off doing what you love for what is practical, so that someday, hopefully, you will have time to follow through on your dreams.

I understand this may seem idealistic and circumstances don’t always allow for everyone’s dreams to play out, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t stop everyone from attempting to do what makes them happy, or me hoping for the best. I challenge everyone, especially the class of 2018, to go out and find your passion, and then pursue that passion relentlessly. Don’t settle for the safe choice. Strive for happiness.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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