In August I will be a senior in high school. I’m trying to choose colleges, and what to major in. I want to become a writer, but every time I tell people that, they always say choose something different, or they tell me how bad a journalism career is.
I’m on my school’s newspaper and I fell in love with writing. I’m stuck. Do I follow my passion and become a writer or do I pick something safe?
THE LOST GIRL
I almost wrote something else today, but your letter really struck a chord with me.
Look, most people are going to tell you to pick something safe. And I’m not qualified to contradict them. I have no letters behind my name. I am a writer myself, and I drive a sixteen-year-old Ford with a rusted tailgate.
Others may tell you that to be a deeply satisfied human being you must (1) be a professional success, and (2) have decent retirement options.
And maybe they’re right.
But this isn’t how people like Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Davy Crockett, Buffalo Bill, Mark Twain, Betty Crocker, Andy Griffith, Mother Teresa, or Willie Nelson changed the world.
I’m no expert, but I think the problem might be: you have loudmouth for a heart.
Well, join the club, sister.
Your heart feels things. It knows things. And if your heart is anything like mine, it’s probably searching for something. Fulfillment might be a fitting word—but that makes me sound too much like a yoga instructor.
So I’ll call it happiness, plain and simple.
Hearts aren’t stupid. They’re interested in this happiness deal. Also: love. Kindness. Loyalty. Giving money to homeless people. Good friends. Biscuits and gravy with hickory smoked Conecuh Quick Freeze sausage.
Your brain, however, thinks about things like: money, safety, and the dangers of saturated fat.
I won’t lie to you, following your heart could ruin your bank account. But then, NOT following it could ruin you.
You asked for my opinion—God help us all. Here goes:
You are not just a high-school student. You’re a creature so wonderful and complicated that you aren’t fully understood by scientists, scholars, or idiots with rusted tailgates.
This “you” I’m talking about is so profound it’s a mystery. Microscopes can’t see it, surgeons wouldn’t find it if they cut you open. The IRS can’t tax it. The CMA’s can’t give it a greasy award.
What I’m saying is: you’re wiser than you think, darling. So is your heart, which is why it’s talking to you now.
It’s saying: “Good God, this idiot is a long-winded son of a biscuit. He’s a mediocre writer who has limited control over basal English language. I could’ve EASILY written something better than this.”
Yes. You could have. Because you are a writer.
Anyway, this writer can’t tell you whether you should play it safe or take a chance. I wish I could, but it’s not that easy.
What I can tell you is:
The safest move you’ll ever make is to let your heart take the wheel.
And you’re not lost.