Take a minute and flash back to your kindergarten classroom.
We all still have the memory imprinted on our minds: the smell of Play-Doh, a light dusting of Cheerios on the carpet and those nap mats riddled with holes – perhaps the bite marks of a teething toddler.
In that first year of school, when your teacher asked you to illustrate your dream for the first time, what did you scrawl out on that piece of construction paper that formed the foundation of your future? Usually it began with a choice between a fireman, a veterinarian or a doctor, because no kindergartner responded, "I want to be a biochemical engineer when I grow up."
As we matured through grade school and into high school, we began to discover a broader range of jobs we could have potential careers in. We held onto a dream, sometimes a bit of a fairy tale, that held our vision for the future.
Flash-forward and we are in college, where what seems to define you is no longer your social status but your major.
Every time you meet someone new, the basic question, "what is your major?" seems to slip out, as it should. That is what we are here for.
Your response may elicit two different reactions: impressed or displeased. The students that have impressive majors are the ones that people think are going to be financially successful in the "real world."
Then there are the "unpractical" majors.
Every time I tell people that I am an English major, I get a solemn look that seems to mean "what a waste of your parents money," followed by an uplifting pep talk about how English majors are destined to grow old, stay unemployed and live in their parents' basement.
This doesn't just happen to me; I witness its daily occurrence to fellow liberal arts, degree-seeking classmates as well. For example, theater majors; many people automatically assume that these students are hopeless romantics with unrealistic dreams that can never be fulfilled.
What it really boils down to is what inspires you. If you are motivated by money then you are going to want to pick the most "practical" major, but there's also people who are not driven by finances. Students studying theater may have a zeal for performing, motivated not by potential wealth but perhaps by dreams of fame.
By choosing the more difficult road, liberal arts students deserve our respect instead of our judgment.
They have chosen the road less traveled, and I personally have the greatest amount of respect for every philosophy, art history or music major I encounter. Success has its root in talent, but talent is nothing without imagination and determination, traits which these unconventional idealists are brimming over with.
Similar to the heroic firefighters of our kindergarten days, these students inspire me to strive for something beyond the mediocre life into which "society" herds us.
When I meet a theater major, instead of a poorly masked pity smile followed by an, "Oh. That's interesting," I whip out a pen and paper and get a head start on my autograph collection. After all, I'll need some proof I met the next Leonardo DiCaprio in my freshman English class.
Kaila Curry is a freshman in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.