Freshman’s parents say she’s ‘selling out’

Q: I’m a freshman in college who is considering majoring in economics after having been much more artsy in high school. My parents value “the creative life” and are disappointed that I’m pursuing something that seems like “selling out.” I think I can still be an artistic person while doing something more guaranteed for employment. But I can tell they look down on it. I know – funny problem to have. Advice, please!

A: So why econ? Is it truly of interest, or is it just what you view as the safest bet to avoid ramen dinners stretching into your 40s? Here’s my view: College should be a time where you explore and discover your passions. And, ideally, those passions inform a realistic plan for housing and feeding yourself for the next couple of decades.

Don’t squander one of life’s very best chances to soak up enrichment. You haven’t even finished your freshman year. Why lock yourself in so soon? Choose a diversity of classes, and let your major – or perhaps a double-major or a minor – find you, rather than forcing yourself to go by some “safe-for-future-employment” calculus.

Q: I’m still grieving the loss of my fiance, who died in a car accident two years ago. Recently my family staged an intervention about how I need to start dating again, and how they’re all worried that I’m giving up my dream of having a family. (I’m 37 and they’re obsessing about my fertility.) My life has changed enough that I don’t even know if I see myself having children anymore. I need my family to back off.

A: I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. Your family is obviously pushing too hard, but that doesn’t mean a little nudge couldn’t be helpful. Not a nudge to your ovaries, of course, but a nudge toward seeking a fulfilling life.

I’m less interested in whether you’ve seen someone romantically as whether you’ve seen someone professionally. Everyone deserves extra support when going through such a staggering loss. If you’re making progress in ways that feel meaningful to you, that’s all that matters. Let your relatives know how alienating it is that they’re concerned with their own ideas of what your life should look like, rather than what you feel is the right path for you.