ann milroy

Dear reader, 

I am going to graduate soon and the one thing I fear the most is being stuck in a job that I hate for the rest of my life. I don’t want to wake up and dread going to a menial nine to five job every single day until I die. 

When I was little, I dreamed of becoming an astronomer. I have also wanted to be a zookeeper, a lawyer, a firefighter and a psychologist. The point is, I did NOT want to have a career as an artist, or more specifically, I did not want to live off of an artist’s salary. I had big goals for how I was going to empty my wallet and from what I had heard, being an artist was not going to bring in enough funds to live luxuriously.

 Fast forward to my high school years when my dad introduced me to photography. He let me use his old Canon AE-1 film camera. I fell in love instantly even though to this day, I have yet to process my first roll of film. Photography began to consume my life, but I told myself that it could only ever be a hobby for me because I wanted a “real” job. I kept repeating the mantra “I will not pursue art as a career,” hoping that I would find another field that I felt equally passionate about. 

When I came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln three years ago, I had so much anxiety over picking the right major. This was the field that I would be working in for the rest of my life. As a freshman, this was going to be the most important decision that I will ever make. I did not want to waste thousands of dollars on a degree just to switch majors halfway through. So once I declared a major, there was no going back.

 I was clueless as to what field I wanted to go into, so I used my resources on campus and attended some workshops for undecided majors that helped students figure out who they are, what they value and where they see themselves in the future. My friends usually did not want to come with me to these workshops because they were “boring” or a “waste of time,” but I was able to explore all the different majors before settling on one. I realized I’d rather do something that I love and that fills my soul, keeping me interested and engaged even if it’s harder, than end up in a boring, safe job that gives me a big paycheck. 

 Those workshops helped me find a way to turn my love for photography into a career. So here I am about to graduate with a degree in advertising and broadcast production, so that I can find a career as a visual artist out in the real world. 

 It’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life. We’ve all been there, it’s just a part of growing up. Take some time to figure out who you really are, who you want to become and what you value the most. Don’t settle for the safe job that doesn’t make you excited to wake up every morning.

 My advice to you is to do something you love. Follow your passions. Life is too short to be doing anything else.

Good luck, 

Ann Milroy