Lately there's been a forceful push (by my parents, particularly my dad) to figure out what I'm going to do in college. My dad said he, "isn't paying for me to be in college for seven years" hahaha...so I'm reading economics books, religion books, considering a major of math combined with something else, maybe even business, all in an attempt to figure out what I'll major in, but I'm fearful of deciding on a major because I think that it will pave a road for me that isn't one I'll love. Can you offer advice on how to go about picking a major with freedom of future in mind, or perhaps some advice that I wouldn't think to ask for?
This was my response:
Let's begin by saying you're not alone. This question comes up to so many people of so many ages. "What career/school/major/path is right for me?" comes up in most people's lives every single day. The answer lies only within each person. However, there are things one can think about and a story that might help.
First, go to a bookstore or library. This is the best advice related to figuring out what you really want to do. This might take a day or so but go to EVERY section of the store. Pick up at least 1 book from every section that is even mildly interesting to you. This stack, for most people, should have at least 20 different books in it. Then start reading one. If you don't want to put it down in the first 5 minutes, set it aside. If you do, that subject is not for you at all. Then you should have a stack that is at least a few books smaller. At this point, select the one that catches your attention the most and pick it up. Start skimming through this time. Look at chapter headings or the first paragraph of each section in the book. If you want to keep reading for more than 75% of every section, then set that book aside. If you don't, it goes in the reject pile. Then you should probably have less than 10 books left. At that point, pick one and start reading, but also take notes. What about it do you like? What are the strong points of the subject? What are the weak points? What part makes it interesting? Then when you've taken notes for about 30 minutes to an hour, go to the next book. Keep doing this until you've finished them all. At that point, you look at the notes. Which sections do you want to expand? Which do you feel are the most important in your life? Which are most needed for something that will leave you feeling satisfied in what you are doing? We must remember that anyone who asks this question is looking for job satisfaction. If a subject doesn't satisfy, pick another one. If no subjects seem to satisfy, quit all of what you're doing and go to some place in the world that is in trouble and help with your hands. There you'll learn what satisfies all beings in the universe. Love and compassion.
Second, some of us are lucky enough to know exactly what they want to do. I know that teaching is my way. There's no other profession that I feel would be right for me at this time. Perhaps in the future that will change, but right now, I only want a job in education that will eventually lead to the building of the dojo. I'm really truly blessed with this. Others however, don't have a clue as to what they want to do. I heard such a story once.
A long time ago there was a man who was traveling through India looking for a guru of some kind. He traveled north and south, east and west and no matter where he went he found only people who would teach him things that he seemed to already know. Some suggested a study of postures to help him achieve a greater world view, but he had already mastered a great deal of flexibility in his body. Some suggested seated meditation to help him explore the mysteries of the universe. He sat and sat and even with perfect posture, nothing came. Others still thought a venture into the things absurd such as walking on coals or various forms of traditionally taboo ritual would be a way for him to venture into his soul. But his answer was always one of disgust. He seemed to know all about many different things but he could not find the right one for him. He one day came to a field that was just before a valley. There children stood playing with each other in the flowers. He watched them for a moment and then suddenly one of them stopped and looked out over the cliff. He asked the child, "What do you see?" The child answered, "You can't see it? It's a butterfly!" The man looked up and saw no butterflies, only clouds. He then said, "But there are no butterflies here." The child looked up at him like he had heard words from a dog. "Don't be stupid! Look! Not here, over there!" Then the man looked up and saw that the clouds were indeed shaped like a butterfly. At that moment, he went to the cliff and climbed down into the valley. He was surrounded by stone and had no tools, but he slowly worked as hard as he could and eventually built a small stone house. There he lived the rest of his life in peace. He looked at butterflies every day though no wings ever touched the wind.
Perspective, my friend, is everything.