“‘What you do’ is the new ‘Who you are'”

You can’t meet anyone new on LVC’s campus without either asking or being asked within the first few minutes, “What’s your major?” I have probably answered this question literally hundreds of times, from fellow students, administration officials, professors, parents, etc. A student’s major is part of who they are, it defines them.

And yes, many people do judge that students based upon what they’re studying. Try telling a pre-med major or PT student that you’re a philosophy major… and see the looks you’ll get.

In the real world, “What’s your major?” is replaced with, “What do you do for a living?”

In an article by LZ Granderson titled, “The question on everyone’s mind,” it is described that in contemporary American society, people are becoming increasingly characterized by their job. In previous times, asking that question often implied that the person was interested in learning about the way someone spends their day or their interests. Now, however, it is used to determine a persons financial worth or level of happiness.

It is described that while money can’t buy happiness, society frequently reaffirms the fact that apparently, “we can’t be happy without it.” And for both the individual themself, or those who they meet, “happiness’ is closely tied to their paycheck. This is how “what you do” can lead someone to make assumptions about your quality of life.

LZ makes a great point when he states that instead of immediately asking what a person does for a living, you could instead ask other “non-threatening questions.” He states, “But why not ask about something not related to money, such as “When was the last time a moment took your breath away?” — getting back to what it means to be human as opposed to a consumer.”

I agree with LZ’s sentiment in this article completely. Asking someone what they do for a living seems like the norm, but really it just often leads to judgement and assumptions. Someone can work at McDonald’s and still lead a very happy life. Similarly, a person can be a lawyer or doctor but be sad and miserable all the time. Money can’t buy happiness, so socially defined “good” jobs can’t buy happiness.

And remember this when you’re trying to make new friends at LVC. Sure, the obvious question is “What’s your major?” but maybe you could ask something a little more about the actual person you’re trying to get to know. What do they do for fun, where did they grow up, and what other activities are they involved with on campus?

Just as someone’s job doesn’t define who they are, a student’s major isn’t, either.

 

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