Why do you do what you do?
It’s an easy enough question, but one that may have a ridiculously difficult answer. It can apply to your hobbies, job, studies – really any aspect of your life. In all seriousness, pick one of those three options (or come up with your own), and ask yourself why you are doing it. I sincerely hope that you do not regret your answer.
A lot of the time, when I tell people that I studied Political Sciences in school, they either laugh, ask why, or say “good for you”. That last one is either genuine, or condescending, depending on the person. Sometimes I think back and wish I had taken something else. Wish that I had taken computer sciences, cellular biology, engineering, or something else that falls under the STEM fields. That was four years of my life, thousands upon thousands of dollars, put towards a piece of paper that tells me in a few words what I supposedly knowledgeable in.
I didn’t start out in Political Sciences, though. I eagerly began my first year of university in Biomedical Sciences, living on a floor in residence that was 90% Biomed or Human Kinetics majors. We would go to class, study, and party together. It was a blast! But when it came to the actual subject matter, to what I was paying substantial sums of money to learn, I was not enjoying myself.
So I switched! I switched into Sociology, primarily because I was also interested in Criminal Justice, but had to jump through hoops to get into that. I thought I would enjoy things like trials, public policy, and the like. At the same time, I had to take some Political Science courses to get all of the requirements for a Criminal Justice degree. Shockingly enough, I found that I enjoyed studying politics, specifically international politics, far more than criminology and law.
So I switched… again!
Two years in Political Sciences, and I graduated at the same time as all of my science major friends.
When I studied politics, when I examined and scrutinized human rights and international aid, I was actually passionate about it. To the point where I would even get into heated debates in class. I loved to do research and write papers about the politics of development and international relations. I was truly enjoying what I was in. And, if you have read even a fraction of my blogs, you know that pursuing what you love is a mantra of mine.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
That is a quote that is usually attributed to Confucius, though it is still debatable if he even said that or not. But let’s focus on the quote itself. If Confucius did say it, he probably didn’t finish his thought. Please, allow me:
“Choose a job (or hobby, study, etc.) you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life… If you work really hard at it.”
Unfortunately, no matter how optimistic you are, happiness does not magically make things fall into your lap. Once you find that happiness, it will not make you labour over it. But getting there is a whole different story. You have to be willing to work for that happiness, to put your blood, sweat, and tears into it.
In my case, I went a little trigger-happy with switching majors until I found the one that I loved. But it wasn’t a case of changing a few words in a database! I ended up taking two or three courses per summer to catch up, and some courses that I took in my first year didn’t count towards my major at all, effectively making them a semi-interesting waste of time. I had to pay for my happiness in time, effort, and cold, hard cash.
Even now I still have to work hard for happiness. As someone actively scouring job boards, I can guarantee you that you are more likely to find a unicorn with saddlebags full of money than you are a job that is looking for a Political Sciences graduate. Unlike computer sciences, marketing, business, finances, or engineering, studying politics does not send you away with hard, transferrable skills. It does provide a desire to argue a lot, a unique perspective on the world, and a desire to make a difference, but the skills you get from a Political Sciences degree are soft ones, not hard, tangible ones.
But it is worth it. It is completely worth it.
You are more than a degree, a title, or a job. Each and every one of us brings a unique concoction of life experience, brewed into our own personal drink. I am a PoliSci major, but I am also a writer, a reader, a Dungeon Master, a cook, a caretaker, a partner, brother, son, a mentor and a student. Together, they make a recipe for happiness. I just might not know how to mix it yet!
I don’t know if I have any readers that are trying to decide on a post-secondary program, or some who might be doubting that big career change, but - if I do - this message is for you most of all. Do what you think will make you the happiest. If that is to work in a company, be financially responsible, and retire so you have a comfortable life after age 55, then pursue that route. If you want to travel the world and see all that it has to offer, then go for it! If you want to be an artist and one day have your work hanging in the Louvre, I will support you the whole way.
Happiness is there, waiting for you. You just need to be willing to work for it.