What the dentist said to me

The other day, I went to my new dentist for the first time. Before he scraped at my teeth and gums while I sat there in silent agony, he asked me a few questions to get to know me. He asked me, "So what are you majoring in?" When I said, "Film and media studies," he responded with, "MEDIA STUDIES? Why not biology?" to which I simply said, "I'm not interested in it."

He then went off to tell me that I had picked a major that did not reap in a lot of money, that it was hard to find a job in the industry, and that he himself had forced his daughter to choose a biology major rather than a Middle Eastern studies major.

First off, it always irritates me how misunderstood UCSB's film studies department really is. When I tell most people that I'm a film major at UCSB, I have to make sure to note that it's all reading and writing intensive. Being a film major at UCSB doesn't mean we look through a camera all day. After learning about classical film theory, analyzing theories about the narrational strategies of film, and writing countless numbers of papers, we then gather together by ourselves to make films because we like to. Most of the films I work on are student made and student run. We put our own extra time and energy into making projects. Then early the next morning, we go back to class and read more about the theories of one of the most influential mass media today. Then we write another paper.

My dentist told me that if I didn't know exactly what I was going to be doing the minute after I graduate, that I was going to be in trouble. Most importantly, he emphasized, I wouldn't be making enough money.

Sure, I may have chosen what he believes is a "non profitable" major as compared to a degree in which one could go on to become a doctor, for example. I could follow the road of becoming a doctor by going to college, passing the MCAT, apply for medical school, and then get into residency programs.

But I didn't go there. Instead, what I can get is this: Learning how to be a self-starter, finding the opportunities for myself, succeeding or failing yet nevertheless learning things about myself as a person, and feeling fulfilled in that I am striving to do what I love to do. Also, with my background in self-taught photography, I learn firsthand what it takes to form one's own business and market myself to an increasingly competitive marketplace. In addition, with my education at UCSB, I've honed in my critical thinking skills, writing skills, and media literacy.

And those qualities, I feel, are some of the most important qualities one could ever acquire. And I am so lucky that my parents trusted me enough to know that no matter what, I would make it, because as a person, I can find my own way.

It wasn't a coincidence that when I was not even two years old, I cried when someone was playing "my piano," or when I wasn't allowed to hold the camera.


  1. Amazing writing. You are a very inspirational person. Oh and go gauchos!

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  3. I'm so glad that you decided to follow your heart and do something that you are passionate about :).

    BTW, I added a "subscribe" widget...how do I subscribe to yours?

  4. People in all fields make important contributions to society. It's sad that people think the amount of money that people earn in a certain position correlates with the discipline's superiority, or that they even feel certain disciplines are superior to others in the first place!


  5. Dentists scoring #1 in the highest-paying-jobs list is interesting [link] but I think they also top the chart of the suicidal-professions.

    Anyways, you are already an amazing photographer and I'm sure you will excel in what you are doing.

  6. yes, media studies! yes, it's important! no, life's not just about making money! :) glad you wrote this, and glad it popped up in my fb newsfeed.

  7. Right on! I chose a "safe" major and look where that got me... haha. I always feel a bit misunderstood when I am with other Ivy Leaguers who all went into the profitable industries. Ah well! We do what makes us happy.

  8. I totally get that sometimes from other people who think they know what's best. It really irks me when parents push their children and tell them what to do/study. Your dentist must be Asian and old-school. (I know this personally)...

    Glad you stuck to what you love and you'll be great at it. Networking is key! :)