Alexis Aceves Garcia graduated from San Francisco State University in 2013 with a B.A. in Creative Writing. She currently resides in Brooklyn and enjoys fine cheeses, red wine, and dark chocolate.
You’re at a family function summer before freshmen year. Everyone’s excited to hear about your plans for school, “What did you decide to major in,” they ask eagerly. “Creative Writing,” you reply confidently. Note the lines on their faces start to change from excitement to concern.
“What are you going to do with that?”
The question echoes in your head for the next four years. But there’s something stronger in your life that combats the practicality: passion. Class after class you hone your poetic craft. You feel connected to a community of writers and genuinely interested in the subject matter. You become the Poetry Editor of the school’s literary magazine, then the Editor-in-Chief. You read at bookstores across San Francisco and yet, the same question is asked over and over again.
Understand that you must make your livelihood somehow. Understand that seven times out of ten, it won’t spring from your undergraduate degree. Understand most of all, that that’s OK. Some of the best advice I received is that success is not always linear. There is no ONE path that gets you to the top of the corporate ladder. There is no telling where you’ll end up. Learn to be comfortable with uncertainty but most of all, embrace the journey ahead of you.
Cherish the bike ride to school where the biggest decision you make is where to park your bike. Know that the friends you make will become family by the end of college. Soon you will be sitting next to them in your purple caps and gowns passing a flask back and forth during commencement. Regardless of your major, a big part of the next four years is learning about yourself.
The story above is true, I lived it. I faced frowning adult faces regularly and learned to smile in return. My smile turned to a broad grin after being accepted to the NYU Summer Publishing Institute in 2014. And soon, I was grinning ear to ear after accepting a position at TIME Magazine in November. If I were to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have and always will be steered by my passions, regardless of what unconventional waters it leads me towards.
It’s not easy choosing your passions. Picking something widely accepted by family members and society alike (i.e. Business, Marketing, Computer Science) is easier because you aren’t constantly defending your choices. If you are unsure of your passions, don’t declare a major right away. Attend a variety of different classes and soak up as many perspectives as possible. Everyone’s college career is different, be kind to yourself and don’t compare your experience to others. Give yourself a chance to grow and care enough about your education on the off chance that graduate school presents itself.
Judge your college years from a different grading scale, one based on creation and self-discovery. After all, you will soon come to know, that’s what College is truly about.