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Image from Pexels.

Feeling alone as you swim through the terrifying waters known as the college admission process? Have no fear! We have five seniors blogging about ups, downs, and random in-betweens of their college process for the next 12 months (from June 2013 to June 2014!). Sit back, relax, and get that “OMG I totally get you, bro” feeling. Information for how to contact a blogger will be at the bottom of his/her posts.

I went into high school wanting to become a surgeon. I soon realized that this would require handling blood and brain bits and stuff, so I changed my projected career path to engineer. Then computer programmer. Then mathematician. Although I was a little fickle, all these jobs had one thing in common: the were all in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field. You see, from when I started watching Cyberchase in 1st grade to when I voluntarily took took the accelerated math track in 6th grade, I had always been labeled as big, huge math nerd. Naturally, I thought I should have a career that related to math or science.

For years, I convince myself that I didn’t like the humanities in order to remain the math-kid that everyone expected me to be. I never wrote creatively and put as little effort as possible into mandatory English classes. I had a good friend who wrote and enjoyed poetry, but didn’t really “click” with math. So in my 14-year-old brain, I decided that she was the English person, and I was the math person. It was a pretty narrow-minded way to look at things, but I now think it was how I coped with my repression of any artistic inclinations. “I shouldn’t even try writing,” I thought. “I’m the math person.”

Still, something didn’t quite feel right. At this time, I was consuming an insane amount of television. I watched an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender every night before bed, even if it cut into my sleep time. And when I watched the behind the scenes features for my favorite TV shows, one thought always stuck in my head: “that looks like so much fun.” That was something I never felt when watching a programmer type code for a new app or an engineer design a space shuttle. Both of those things are obviously super cool, but they just never gave me the same gut-reaction of excitement and fascination as watching creative people work to put together a fictional story.

But despite these feelings, I continued to avoid anything art related. I didn’t think it was practical, as I’d of course been exposed to the “English major working at Starbucks” trope ad nauseam. I just imagined that I would just become a chemist or mathemagician or whatever, make a bunch of money, and then spend my free time watching all the movies and television I wanted.

I also felt guilty when I considered studying something humanities related instead of science/math related. There are so  many programs dedicated to encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM, and the imbalance between men and women in these fields is huge. And here I was, a young woman with a natural talent for math, thinking about ditching it and becoming a bohemian. It seemed disrespectful, almost.

My perspective only changed when in 10th grade, on a whim, I decided to take a two-week playwriting course. The experience was eye-opening. It was the first time that I wished a class would last longer instead of shorter. We read plays, watched plays, and wrote our own plays, and it was all so much fun. I wrote like crazy, and in the end  created something that I was truly proud of– a ten-minute comedy about a pair of bomb defusers who one day decide that they regret their chosen career path.

I only now recognize the serendipity of my writing that play as I myself was grappling with that very same issue. That class was ultimately the tipping point. I realized that, even if I was doing a disservice to the glass ceiling or missing out on making big bucks, I simply could not aspire toward a career where I might be unhappy. I had to do what I was passionate about; I had to write.

Fast-forward a few years, and I’m now editor-in-chief of my school’s literary magazine, writer of ten complete scripts, and blogger for a little website called The Prospect. I’m applying to colleges that have strong writing programs, and am happy to admit that my dream job is writing for television. What’s more, I’ve learned that the notion of the “starving artist” is not as true as many believe. One study conducted by Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, found that “artists can have good careers, earning a middle class income…. and, just as importantly and maybe more, artists tend to be happy with their choices and lives.” I, for one, have never felt more confident in my decisions.

Want to get in touch with Celeste? Send her a message via her Tumblr and she’ll get back to you ASAP!

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the author

Celeste Barnaby is a senior at a tiny private school in Reno, Nevada, also known as the Neon Babylon. She has committed to attend Wesleyan University and plans to major in film studies (but she's keeping an open mind). When she’s not stressing out over her schoolwork or procrastinating said work, she enjoys horseback riding, writing macabre short stories, and shopping for flannels. You can observe her attempts at humor and various television-related obsessions on her Tumblr.

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  1. Rosie on December 8, 2013


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