In college, I had a friend whose major was Accounting. Number crunching, tax preparation, corporate budgeting Accounting. I didn’t get it. I mean, I really didn’t get it. Why on earth would she choose such a mind-numbingly boring major??
So one day I asked her. What she told me was simple: “I’m good at it. I can do the work, it doesn’t drive me nuts, and it pays really well. This way, I have job security and a way to make money to pay for the things I enjoy doing in my free time.”
To be honest, it still didn’t make sense to me. In the intervening years, I’ve decided that it comes down to a difference in how the two of us looked at the issue of work. My friend saw her job as a means to afford things she truly enjoyed doing. I, on the other hand, have always maintained that I have to truly enjoy the work I’m doing. I need to be passionate about my career field, or it’s really just not worth it for me.
Last month (regrettably just before I started blogging), Rex at Savage Minds asked Anthro bloggers to write a love letter to the discipline in honor of Valentine’s Day. Several great bloggers answered his call, and Neuroanthropology gathered a bunch of the letters together into one post. Reading these letters brought back a lot of the reasons why I fell in love with Anthropology in the first place…always a good thing for stressed-out, jaded graduate students to remember from time to time. Rex’s own letter reverberated with me the most, and inspired me to pull together a few of my own reasons for loving Anthropology.
I was never one of those kids who knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up. By middle school, I had recognized a love of world history and mythology. In early high school, I had my first exposure to people from other countries. There’s an entry in my 10th grade diary that goes something like this: “I wish there were something I could do that lets me study people from other places all the time. Is there something like that out there? Maybe International Relations?” Enter the undergrad years. International Relations had too much politics involved for my taste. I settled for majoring in Spanish and minoring in Psychology, but it wasn’t quite right. When graduation came, I still had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up.
Finally, after a year of life-changing procrastination from real life in Spain, I got my first taste of Anthropology. I was hooked after the first Intro class. At the end of the semester, I declared my intention to go to graduate school, and my mother declared that I had “found my people”. I laughed, but she was right.
Anthropology takes everything I have ever been interested in studying and brings it together in one legitimate field of study. It brings together people who, like me, have a diverse range of interests and experiences, and it unites us in a shared passion for studying humanity and all its quirks. The potentialities for research and collaboration within and beyond anthropology are practically limitless. Once I found the discipline, I was equal parts dismayed and elated that my biggest problem was now figuring out what exactly I wanted to study within anthropology!
Most people, when I tell them I’m now in graduate school studying Anthropology, give me blank or puzzled looks. The majority of people don’t even know what Anthropology is. That would have been me a few years ago. And while I wouldn’t change the events that have finally gotten me here, part of me does wish it had come a little sooner. Maybe that’s why I’m so adamant about introducing Anthropology to kids at a younger age. If I’d known this were an option back in middle school when I first started learning about Greek mythology, Egyptian temples, and Mozambican dances…would things have been a little easier?