So, why weddings? Why not marketing, or finance, or creative writing? Why not be an editor, a pastry chef, a costume designer, a nutritionist? Why choose event planning over animal behaviorism? All of these are things that I’m skilled at and passionate about. So what is it about the bridal industry that made me fall head over satiny heels?
As I mentioned during my introduction post, working with weddings hasn’t always been something I wanted to do. Deciding on a major (or a career) is similar process to finding The One. You “date” the major by taking a few classes, testing the waters, seeing if the two of you are compatible.
After a bit of experimentation, you can tell if the major or career is a good fit for you. If it’s not, you break up and move on. Or you delude yourself into thinking that it’s the right choice – which is exactly what I did when I started college.
For most of high school, I was certain that I wanted to become a film director, and it wasn’t until the fall of my senior year that I decided I wanted to pursue fashion design instead. Mostly because I did some research and found out how horribly sexist the field of film-making is, and frankly I couldn’t see myself being happy surrounded by that sort of mentality.
Unlike most schools, Columbia requires incoming freshmen to declare their major at the time of application. The choice to major in Fashion Design wasn’t based on a dream of mine to start a famous clothing line or even an interest in design. Mostly, I just enjoyed sewing and putting together outfits, so fashion design must be what I was meant to do, right?
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my classes or that I wasn’t good at them. I received a hefty four-year scholarship for my fashion portfolio that I submitted with my college application, and at the end of my spring semester, I had a 4.0 GPA and made the Dean’s List. Coming up with clothing designs and collections was fun, and my garment construction classes were vastly improving my sewing skills.
But everything I did felt dispassionate and impassive. There was no heart in my work; I was simply going through the motions.
Before the end of my first year, though, I realized that this was not the field for me. It came to me as an epiphany during my Fundamentals of Fashion Design class, while we were watching a documentary on Nicole Miller. I remember sitting there as the video walked through a day in Nicole Miller’s life, thinking to myself, “I do not want to do that. I absolutely, positively, do not want to do that.”
Immediately after class, I took myself to Starbucks, got a consolatory chai latte, and went to sit in Grant Park as I promptly had my first “Oh God What Am I Doing With My Life” college breakdown. (It was the first of many.)
The thing is, I loved sewing, and I loved designing, but my classes were making me hate both because I felt obligated to do the work, rather than being inspired to do it. Those were my hobbies, things I did to relax and relieve stress, and I didn’t want them to become something I couldn’t turn to for fun.
In the middle of this breakdown, I called my mom, who calmly talked me away from the ledge of dropping out of college to live with her for the rest of my life. Once I admitted that I didn’t really want to become a moocher, she suggested the idea of switching majors.
“Is there anything else you can see yourself doing, honey?” she’d asked. “Think of something that makes you happy.”
I took a moment to do so, and for some reason, my mind immediately jumped to my cousin’s wedding from the previous summer. I’d loved talking to her during the planning stages, helping her figure out a color scheme, and seeing it all come together had been one of the most exciting days of my life.
“Weddings,” I’d said, a little breathless. “Mom, I want to be a wedding planner.”
My mom had sounded all too smug as agreed, as if she’d always known I’d choose this. The next morning, I made an appointment with my adviser and switched my degree to Fashion Business. It’s been history ever since.
I still have the occasional thought of what my life would be like if I had decided to attend Michigan State to major in Animal Behaviorism, but I’m confident that going into bridal is what I’m meant to do. It took a bit of dating, a bit of exploring the fish in the sea, but I know I’ve found the right career for me.
Now, if only finding The One will be just as easy…
How did you decide on your major or career? Did you ever switch, or go into a field different from your degree?