Please Stop Telling Me My Degree Will Be Useless

Photo: NDAB Creativity / shutterstock
woman studying

By Emily Bernstein

Being a college student sucks. It’s all midterms, spending thousands of dollars on books and food, and writing papers through the night. At times, I think, oh I could drop out and still make it big. But alas, life just doesn’t work like that for all of us. *sigh*

We can’t all have a grand idea and make millions on it. So I sit in classrooms, toiling away, learning about how to write a good poem, learning about literature, and talking about politics. Because, yes, I’m a Creative Writing major.

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So, okay, even with college, I may not make it big. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

You might say, “But you don’t need college to be a writer.” You might say, “But who wants to read poetry anyway?” You might say, “Why aren’t you majoring in something more practical?” And, oh, how these questions irritate me.

I don’t need you telling me that what I’m studying isn’t reasonable. I really don’t need that in my life. Writing is my passion. Poetry is my passion. Learning about it all and getting to practice it in classes is my passion.

Instead of studying something "practical" for life (which, by the way, isn’t really practical at all since most college students aren’t getting hired in their chosen field anyway), I’m studying something that’s "practical" to me.

I’m studying something I love, something I can look forward to and be passionate about when I talk to other people. And yeah, I may not make it big as a writer anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream.

Sure, I may not make it big ever, but I don’t need to drive a Tesla, live in a mansion, have three homes in different countries to be happy. Sure, I may wish for more money in the future, but I’d rather be doing something I love — going home fulfilled — than do something I hate for good money.

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Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m comfortable living in this world where I write my poems, work a day job, and am completely happy with my life.

Because I can write doing anything — I can write even if I have a steady job in an office. I can live my life, follow my dreams, and still work a job that pays the bills.

I understand that it may take me a while to find a job, settle into a place, feel comfortable monetarily. I understand that I may struggle. I understand that being an artist in today’s world is near impossible and you think I have my head in the clouds. I understand that you think my degree will be useless.

I understand that underneath all of that taunting exterior, you’re just worried for me and my future. I get it. But I don’t need you to tell me my degree will be useless.

Frankly, I already know that (from the hundreds of people who have given me disdainful looks or scoff when I tell them I’m a BFA in Creative Writing major). And I’ve come to terms with that.

But I get to go to class every day and love what I’m studying. I get to learn about things I like. I get to learn about things that I’m truly passionate about.

And that’s all I really care about. So you can take your teasing and taunting somewhere else. Because I love my degree, and I don’t need your permission to do that.

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Emily Bernstein is a writer whose work focuses on mental health, pop culture, love, and family. Her writing has been featured in Nature, The New Yorker, Interview Magazine, Healio, Five O'Clock, among others. Follow her on Twitter for more.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.