“I became an artist – and thank God I did – because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life” – Viola Davis
If Viola Davis said it, it must be true – obviously.
The actress’ statement during her 2017 Academy Awards acceptance speech may have sparked controversy but it’s one that personally stuck with me, one that I feel isn’t addressed quite enough.
Disclaimer: I’m not disputing the fact that there are many people who are passionate about their STEM-related careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). But if we’re honest, said people never experience disapproval when saying “I’m studying medicine/accounting/engineering”, instead, they're usually praised for it. I’m simply shining a light on the flawed societal beliefs regarding the arts.
Are you an arts or humanities student or graduate? Have you ever been ridiculed based on your choice of study? Or are you a parent who really wants your child to pursue a professional STEM career? Share your stories by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish them on our site. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.
Growing up, I always fared quite well in my schooling career, even in maths and science. I’d often finish top of my class, which was particularly exciting for relatives who thought there might finally be a doctor in the family. “You’ll get a job so easily” or “doctors get paid so much” were among the things I’d often get told. From a young age this mentality was instilled in me but thankfully, went in one ear and straight out the other. I knew I wasn’t prepared to be the next Meredith Grey or anything.
You see, I’ve always been more of a right-brained individual, a creative, a free spirit. I spent my free time drawing, writing and even shooting short films with my best friend using our Bratz dolls as main characters (we decided to be polite and not release it so Quentin Tarantino’s career could be spared). Point is, being creative was something that came naturally to me and to this day, is something I embrace.
I know how passionately I feel about the arts, and to think that there are individuals out there who feel the same but are afraid to go into creative or humanitarian careers saddens me. So I’m here to tell you that if you happen to be one of these people, it really is going to be okay. I know it’s been said before but if me saying it again can get through to at least one person, then I’ll gladly do so.
When I started university, I quickly became familiar with all of the stigmas around arts and humanities students. We became the punchline of many jokes, it seemed. To this day, sitting among friends who are studying the likes of engineering, economics and science can be frustrating at times. They usually spew comments about my and my fellow arts students’ futures of unemployment, homelessness or poverty despite having our degrees.
Those same people are usually the first to say, “You’re so creative” or “I wish I could be more creative”... *sips tea*. Although it’s just banter, “not that deep”, it still stings a little and is an extremely closed-minded way to be looking at the world. To be fair, this one remains a classic: “What’s the difference between a large pizza and a BA student? A large pizza can feed a family of four.”
So I want to urge all of my fellow art or humanities enthusiasts to keep on pursuing your passions, no matter how much negativity you get for doing so, be it peer or parental inflicted. I understand it can become frustrating at times since creative careers are not considered to be the “safe” option, whereas STEM careers are thought to bring immediate results. STEM subjects lean towards the systematic, methodical side of life whereas the arts are more humanistic. To deny the importance of the arts, even in a technological world, is completely nonsensical.
There’s also this common misconception that humanities courses are “easy” and let me just assure you that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN “EASY” DEGREE. Don’t ever let anyone try to discredit your hard work or belittle you by saying that. Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, a top software company, said so himself: “While the sciences teach us how to build things, it’s the humanities that teach us how to build and why to build them. And they’re equally as important and they’re just as hard.” Good point you made there, Eric.
You can have a look at his full Ted Talk, “Why tech needs humanities", here.
Despite the stigma around arts/humanities, it is also an evolving industry and luckily we aren’t living in medieval times so there’s definitely more of a demand for creatives now. Arts and humanities careers are more versatile and often interlink, meaning you’ll have the opportunity to constantly grow and learn new skills. The creative industry is also generally more competitive as it is always changing, therefore important to stay on top of things. It’s exhilarating, challenging and one sweet adventure! You meet so many interesting, like-minded individuals and you’ll soon come to realise that you’re exactly where you belong.
Ultimately, it really is so important to be doing something you love. Getting a well-paying job that makes your life miserable is just counterproductive. Having something that sets your soul on fire, however, really is quite a special feeling. I now get to write this article from my cute little desk overlooking the city and feel eternally grateful that I chose the arts while my friends who make fun of me are probably in a lecture somewhere repeating their modules for the third time.
If there’s one final piece of advice I can give, it’s that you shouldn’t listen to anyone who tells you that you’ll be wasting your life or your potential because they couldn’t be more wrong. You’re creating a life for yourself in which you can celebrate the talents you were blessed with. Soon enough you’ll be indifferent to the judgement because when you’re truly happy with what you’re doing – that’s all that will matter. It truly is so liberating to take control of your life and be confident in your choices; you’re brave and I applaud you.
Now, go prove them all wrong.
Do you want to study in the arts or humanities field? Have you ever been ridiculed based on your choice of study? Or are you a parent who really wants your child to pursue a professional STEM career? Share your stories by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish them on our site. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.
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