This week, I became an English major. I used to be an economics major. It feels wrong to say. I, Nick Tabio, am now an English major. It almost deserves a question mark.
For the record, I’m not ridding myself of a dirty Yale stereotype in my change of major. I am moving from “Finance Bro/Snake” to “Sad Yale Boy.” Instead of batting out p-sets in my 14-guy/1-girl bro-con (a delightful ellison of the terms “bro” and “economics”) study group that meets in a poorly lit Bass Library room, I’m writing papers about intersectionality in Hemingway novels while I sip Koffee? in either JoJo’s or Book Trader. Instead of implicitly supporting the financial markets, which perpetuate income inequality and the American belief in a 60-hour work week in exchange for more money than can imaginabley fit in a checking account, I will feature on the Sad Yale Boys instagram page with a somber look on my face that screams “I fetishize my own self-proclaimed complexity.”
Yes, oh reader, I am perfectly aware that my argument leans in favor of the money and the Quantitative Reasoning credits. If you are going to fit an infamous stereotype, I suppose most would rather be financially compensated for their work.
But I distinctly remember last Tuesday night. I was sitting in my room, frantically scribbling calculus symbols that may as well have been a foreign language. I distinctly remember teetering — teetering between the urge to stop and the urge continue with my scribbles.
I thought back to my first year at Yale, sitting in Laz Library’s basement. For those who are not aware, Berkeley’s private George and Shelly Lazarus Library is lined with old books, invoking the tradition of Yale’s beauty — features of Yale’s past that are indisputably gorgeous.
The word “dichotomy” is harshly overplayed by every Yalie, but I cannot reiterate enough the fact that the top floor of Lazarus, with its ornate, nearly ostentatious beauty, is a complete dichotomy to its computer lab basement.
White walls. No heating system. Loud. And for every Thursday night at Yale, I, a young and innocent Directed Studies student (I can feel your eyes roll, oh reader), rejected the attractive top floor with its great personality. Instead, I worked in the unattractive, rude and unwelcoming basement.
In my Thursday home, I struggled to march up the mountainous DS weekly paper, always coming back down the next day with a dissatisfactory piece of paper that reflected upon both my intellect, or my lack thereof, and my inability to plan in advance. My essay, a few pieces of paper — formerly with the great strength of a tree — now processed and stained with my lackluster work, was all I held as I made the weekly walk back from Laz to my L-Dub dorm.
And, in that moment last Tuesday, as I scribbled my calculus, the sole math prerequisite for the economics major, I thought of that walk from Laz to L-dub. I remember how cold it was once we got to November. I remember feeling physically weak, mentally weak. Most importantly, I remember forcing myself to continue a path of study I hated for the convenience of not making a change.
And I looked back down at the symbols, my desperate and incomprehensible attempt to find the integral of two trigonometric functions multiplied by a polynomial (see, doesn’t that sound like gibberish?). As the clock struck midnight, I put down my pencil, emailed my professor and confirmed that I would be dropping math.
In doing so, I finally made a change. An active decision to base my choices on strong intuitions, not questionably logical thoughts that are actually poor attempts to fit into the Yale finance stereotype.
Earlier, I said that the “English major” felt wrong. Yet, changing from an econ major to an English major felt so incredibly right.
I used to be an econ major. This week, I am an English major. And I am happy.
Nick Tabio | firstname.lastname@example.org