Oh, the *dreaded* question. If you are a rising senior and older, chances are that you can relate to this.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great conversation topic if you’re in an academic setting, or want to get to know someone else’s future plans and aspirations. But, in this post, I want to dissect the actual meanings and connotations behind the question (yeah, I’m so analytical).
1. For starters, when you get asked the question, it’s been implied that you’re going to college.
If you’re going to ‘study‘ something, you must do it at some college or at least some institution. But is that really the case now for this rising generation? I mean, okay – I am biased, as I am currently taking a gap year that I didn’t agree with initially. And I’m not exactly studying to be something, but rather doing a variety of things. But the way we still see college is that it’s the bridging step between school and career. And I don’t believe that’s the reality for many anymore.
There are just so many new options and paths to take, that college is almost like the ‘safe’ path to take. In short, I feel that this questions is too… antiquated. If you have a college plan ahead of you – great! But if you don’t… then it’s awkward.
2. What am I going to study?
The second implication of this big question is that… you know what you are going to study. If you do – awesome (and just know that I envy your ability to settle on a career), but many people, like myself, don’t. I mean, ‘academically’, I like Psychology. And Language & Literature. And Ethnic Studies. And Digital Writing. And a few other things. But yeah, I like Psychology.
But with this question, it seems like one answer – at most two – is expected. I’m supposed to say Psychology, and if I mention my other interests, I’m probably going to appear wishy-washy (which I kind of am, anyway). But this leads to the third connotation:
3. The question wants to put you in a box!
This is such a defining question. What you want to study can say a lot about the type of person you are, your main interests, and maybe even your personality and origins. But it’s also so… limited. By choosing a subject, you’re being classified as a scientist, artist, doctor, lawyer, and so on. It’s like a label that defines you greatly. And if you are being asked this question by someone who’s just getting to know you, that’s what you’ll be to them: “Your name”, the filmmaker/teacher/dentist. It doesn’t say anything about your secondary interests, your hobbies… just what you are ‘studying’. And I know this because I’m at fault for being the person that assumes these things too.
And I know this is just one question that can lead to other questions that can answer all the other things about the person that you are, but this is just a post by someone who has dreaded being asked this question for the past few years, fearing that people would classify me as that ‘one thing’.
But the truth is… like everyone else, my interests evolve through time. I haven’t actually ‘studied’ a particular something as I’m not in college yet, but I have been, and am, several things at once: I’m a polyglot, a blogger, a musician, and I have a long list of activities and hobbies that define me as much as these few things.
I don’t ‘fit’ into the box that this question implies, and neither should you.