Monday, January 09, 2006

the _________ ___ happiness

today while researching archetypal psychologist James Hillman (for no specific reason really), i realized that no matter what career change i have made since undergraduate school, i will always be drawn to study pieces of psychology and criminal justice. what fascinates and thrills me has not changed with a degree of a new name, i have just expanded my pool of opportunity and experience, and maybe embraced a side of myself that i did not have the confidence to pursue straight out of high school.

however, what i have also come to recall today while thinking on my psychology degree is something that someone said to me recently, after hearing that i had majored in psychology in undergrad. i cannot even recall who the person was or where i was or any of the specifics of the encounter, but the words they said still cause a pit of dislike to form in my gut. they said something to the effect that "yea, a lot of kids major in psychology because they don't know what they want." maybe psychology is a major that is seen that way, as a catch-all for everyone who doesn't want to be a liberal arts major or doesn't really want to work, but as a person who took the time and effort to take hard, non-required courses before declaring the major to make sure i was interested, and then working hard to earn a degree in the subject, i take offense to that. and i'd have to say that i know quite a few people i had classes with in school who would also find that statement annoying.

just because i have not opted for a career in that field does not mean that i chose it because i didn't know what the hell else to do with all that time in school. nor would i expect my classmates who are pursuing their graduate degrees in the subject to say they chose the field out of apathy or indecision towards declaring a major. i may not have gone to school knowing i would major in psychology, but once i started it, it was something i found extremely fascinating and still do. if i hadn't caught the creativity bug, i would probably happily be earning a masters in it right now. it is also something i don't think i have fully left behind.

people who perpetuate the stereotypes about a psychology degree are maybe taking their notions from college history and not the present day. i wonder if whoever said that to me, if speaking with my teacher friends, would have asked them, "so is it true, 'those who can, do, and those who can't, teach?'" whatever that saying does to the hearts of those of you who worked your asses off to become the under-paid, under-appreciated guides of future generations, is also the feeling i get when someone implies that my psychology degree was just something i got when i was confused.

lastly, who's to say that if you know exactly what you want to do when you start and finish college that it is what you will end up doing anyway? no one's life is that simple. no matter how certain i think i am about the place i'm headed, i'll once again find myself running in circles, cutting another path or just happily going along for the ride. i am the first one to admit that my degrees in psychology and criminal justice look kind of funny on my resume just under my M.S. in advertising. however, i will not concede that the disjointed path was due to "a kid" who didn't know what she was doing. i am happy and proud to have such a varied and interesting piece of paper that, if nothing else, brings up some questions to whoever is looking at it. "criminal justice, huh? so you could, hypothetically, arrest the people making the horrible advertisments?"

sometimes i wish. but, hypothetically, and actually, i can do, or not do, whatever i damn well please with that degree and any of the others. and happily, i will.

"Just stop for a minute and you'll realize you're happy just being. I think it's the pursuit that screws up happiness. If we drop the pursuit, it's right here." -James Hillman

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