We are told our whole lives, “You have time.” Time to figure out what college you’re going to, what your major is going to be and what your overall life is going to be like.
We get this reassurance over and over until we enter college, and then we’re told that time is up. Thinking you need to figure out the next 40 years of your life as soon as you enter your first year of college is incredibly overwhelming for an 18 year old. We don’t know anything about the difficulty of classes or what majors can get what jobs. The truth is, however, it’s totally okay to not know.
When I started my first year at Eastern Michigan University, the only careers I wanted orbited around creativity. But, I never thought I could get a well-paying career going that route. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was I wanted to be successful.
At 18 years old, I immediately thought of jobs I could do that would get me a high-paying job in the shortest amount of time. I bounced ideas back and forth and researched until I finally landed on something that I thought I could handle: Dietetics.
It was interactive, it was high-paying – it was something. Though I knew I had no real passion for it, I thought that didn’t matter. If I could make it through these next four years, I could get a nice job and never have to worry about finances for myself or my future family.
So, I began my science degree, only to find myself confused and miserable in all of my classes. Chemistry, Biology, Anatomy: I was flooded with confusion and anxiety, and I had no passion for the subjects to find the motivation to learn. I then switched to a Psychology major, then an Exercise Science major, but no matter what I did, I still felt so incredibly lost.
I finally accepted that it was okay to change my major and that these quick jumps to random careers may not have been the best strategy. Once I was a sophomore, I changed my major to undecided and took a variety of Gen-Eds to find something, anything to be passionate about.
In the whirlwind of my semester of journalism, creative writing, poetry and theater, I realized I couldn’t avoid my creative urge. I had a natural drive to create, and the only way I could achieve happiness in my career is to follow that natural instinct inside of me.
Here I am today as a junior at EMU spending my days writing, creating and feeling more fulfilled than I ever felt sitting in a science lab or studying the parts of the human body. I’m so thankful that I took the time to explore my passions and try out enough paths to finally land on this one.
It’s perfectly okay to not know your plan right after high school, and sometimes it takes a couple frustrating, confusing years of switching majors and exploring.
So, for those who feel like they haven’t quite found their place yet, or that the path they are going doesn’t feel right, that’s okay. There’s no shame in changing your major or being undecided. The best way to find what’s the best fit for you is taking a variety of classes that interest you, or joining clubs that you find exciting. Also, talking to counselors is a wonderful way to create a schedule that makes you excited to go to class everyday.
Deep down, you know which direction you want to take. There’s no shame in taking a couple wrong turns during self-exploration because you’re inevitably going to get on the track you’re destined to be on. You will find that same exact moment of clarity. You’ll look back and wonder why you were ever worried.