This Is What It Means To Have A Liberal Arts Degree


So you’re creative. You want to make this creativity into a career. You enter into a program at school and you deal with other people laughing at your major because you don’t care. This is what you want. This is the only thing you’re okay with doing. People don’t get it, and you’re okay with it. Because you know, YOU know that this is what is right for you.

You try to describe to your science major friends and your business degree parents that Fine Arts is really where you belong. They nod and go along with it, they humor you, but you can tell they think you’re crazy. They think you’re setting yourself up for failure. You humorously answer the question, “What are you going to do with a film degree?” with some sort of response about living in a box. You do it for the love, for the passion that burns inside of you, sometimes so much it hurts, sometimes so much you can’t sit still, you have to run, you have to walk it out because it’s so intense. 

The drive, the push, the desire… it won’t be ignored. So you let it go, you don’t let your mom’s friend’s mom get to you because they don’t get it. They don’t feel it. But you do. And you’re okay with it.

The further you go, the more you realize most of your friends feel the same way. The people you surround yourself with become your new family, a family that will talk for hours with you about film, the friends that will sit and discuss your dreams like they are practical. They become practical the more you learn, the more you know. There’s a place for you, you’re convinced. You’ll be one to make it. You know it. 

Then things happen, things you didn’t expect. Road blocks hit and they hit hard. You start to question everything you thought you wanted. Is this really worth it?, you wonder. Am I being stupid?, you think. Should I get my law degree and have a real job like everyone wants for me? This might not work out, you start to engrave in your brain.

But that feeling, the churning, the fire in your chest is still there. Still reminding you that you have to keep going. You don’t have a choice. Sure, you might try to make it and after a few hard-fought years decide to call it quits. To go back to school, to find another job, to teach kindergarten or be a realtor, something normal and practical. And that might be okay. That honestly might be great. Because you tried. You might be successful. You might hit it big. You might be on top of the world one day and stuffing envelopes in the mailroom the next. And that’s ok too. Because you tried.

For you, failure is not defined by how many digits are on your paycheck after a respectable amount of years. Failure would be never trying. You can only fail if you never give it a go. Your dreams won’t change, they won’t disappear. You don’t have the dreams of a 5 year-old who wants to be a giraffe, and you don’t have dreams of a 10 year-old who wants to go to Mars. Yours are real. Yours can’t go away. You will never be satisfied if you don’t try.

So you go to your friends, the ones that are like you, and you get together. You recognize that they are just as smart and funny and talented as you but that’s okay. It’s better to see them as friends than competition. You celebrate and envy each of their victories as they celebrate and envy each of yours. You mourn each time one of you falls but you help each other get right back up. You need them even on the days you hate them. Because they are the only ones who get it. You don’t know where you will be in 10 years, but you hope and pray you’ll be somewhere with them. That you will all make it. You know that at the end of it, you’ll grow apart, you’ll be different, you’ll form different paths, but it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. You aren’t the only one with the ambition outsiders don’t understand. Your brains are different. You see the world shot-by-shot, sentence-by-sentence. Each day you greet a new opportunity for a story, each person you meet a new character. 

You take a deep breath. You remember how lucky you are to be who you are, to have the opportunities you have. You try not to take those for granted and you keep going. You have no other choice.