So, I majored in both Mathematics and History.
And when I say this, I inevitably hear “that’s an odd combination, what are you going to do with it?” (along with the occasional “Ew, why?”)
To which I always respond “Whatever I want” (or “because I like these subjects”)
Because that’s true.
I can do or learn to do pretty much anything with the skills I acquired in this major combination; a combination of two subjects that I’m totally and irrevocably in love with.
I also hear a lot of “Ugh I hate math, good for you” (wow thanks for pointing out that I chose to do something you think of as torture for four years??) and the occasional “love math, hate history” (how can you even??)
Of course, I’m probably a little bit biased because I love both of these subjects.
But even when I hear someone say they majored in a subject I’m not all about, I have a deep respect for their love of that subject (and chances are, I don’t hate that subject, or maybe I even like it, but there was a limit on how many things I could major in and math and history got me the deepest).
But, to be honest, the question of “What are you going to do with that” is such a harmful question. And it’s a loaded question, like if I say I want to spend my life working on an elephant rescue, that’s not gonna get the same positive response as if I say I’m planning on doing math for the federal government, or that I’m hoping to get into Armor Co., a big corporation that builds teflon armor or whatever (I just made that up, can you tell?)
Also, like, you don’t need to know. What gives you the right to know what I want to do with my future? Chances are, I’ve just met you. Why would I divulge that information to a person who I don’t know if they’re going to be in my life for 5 minutes or 5 years or forever?
Now, if the person asking is, like, interviewing me for a job, then obviously that’s reasonable. Like, “what do you want to do with that?” “well, I’d really like to work here!” Sure, okay, yeah.
And if the person asking is like a family member or close friend or professor who has contributed to you getting to where you are at the point of the question, it makes sense that they want to know. Like, yeah, my professors probably want to know how I’m going to use the vast sea of knowledge that they’ve introduced me to. And I would love to tell them. But I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. I’m literally 22. Like, I’ve just gotten out of the craziest 4 years of my life so far and my whole world is completely different. I don’t know what I’m doing right now, let alone for the next few decades.
I appreciate and understand my professors’ and family’s desire to know, really. But I can’t tell anyone something that I don’t know yet.
And it’s not that I haven’t given it any thought, either. My problem is that there are so many things that I want to do and could do, that I can’t pick just one. So far since graduation, I have applied to (1) the federal government (2) an IT job in the private sector (3) teach for america (4) a math learning center called mathnasium. Sure, I’ve only actually been offered one of these positions, which made it easier to decide which was my next step, but these are 4 pretty different things. And that’s not even considering the other things I’ve been thinking about, such as:
(1) going to work for an animal sanctuary
(2) entering the nonprofit sector in a way that can help:
a. kids in need
b. humans with mental illnesses
c. LGBTQ+ individuals
d. all of the animals
e. the environment
f. any combination or all of the above
(3) going to grad school for a master’s or doctorate in math
(4) going to grad school for a master’s in history
(5) going back to undergrad for another Bachelor’s
(6) leaving society as we know it and becoming a hermit who lives off the land (though I hear this is frowned upon)
(7) going into public service (e.g. police, military, local government [aka becoming Leslie Knope])
(8) law school/lawyer (?? idk because I get emotional when I argue and lawyering involves a lot of arguing)
Like, there are so many possibilities that it’s overwhelming to think about all of them and think about making a choice to do just one.
So, I’m spending some time trying to appreciate the now. I’m working two part-time jobs, which amounts to working almost every day, but that’s how I thrive. And when I’m not working, I’m taking pictures of my cat and writing blog posts and building a social media presence because being able to operate social media is something that I can put on my resume when it comes time to actually apply for full-time careers. And I’m working on getting ready to apply to grad schools.
And for now, that’s what I’m doing with “that.”
(I also want to note that people always talk like math and history are two completely unrelated topics, but they’re really not that different. You analyze stuff when you do math, and you analyze stuff when you do history. You’re just analyzing different stuff in different ways. But a mathematical proof and a historical essay are pretty similar: they’re both arguments on a point–the major difference being that if you’re doing it right, a mathematical proof is 100% indisputable facts and a historical essay is just one point of view that is disputable and it’s your job to convince your reader that your point of view is the right one. And it’s really important to have both of those skills, because being able to further an argument whether it’s backed up with indisputable evidence or disputable evidence that you can to your advantage makes you a force to be reckoned with. Also, neither is harder than the other; they just take different skills.)
The Fierce Feminist