A Pep Talk on Indecision
Coming to college is a big deal. There are so many options of where to go, what type of degree to achieve, how long it is going to take — the choices seem endless and often overwhelming.
I remember very well my senior year of high school — all the applications, deadlines for admission and scholarships, various other dates that might have been arbitrary but I somehow found myself stressing about. Since I had so much to do, the best I could manage was a mild case of senioritis, more of a “complain about having to do too much” attitude rather than outright laziness.
I also remember how scared I was when I finally moved into my dorm. Everybody seemed so big and knowledgeable and I was just a scared little freshman, unsure what to do or who to talk to. Clearly, I survived this dramatic period of my life, as countless others have before me and countless others will after, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: Worrying about everything didn’t help one iota.
Don’t Freak Out About Choosing a Major
One of the things that most concerned me my first year of college was just what exactly I was going to do when I graduated. It seemed like most of my friends had already hammered out exactly what they wanted to do, but I was floundering.
I came to ASU thinking journalism was the way to go, but I soon found out that it was not the career choice for me. What, then, should I do? So many options were open to me, and still are, that at times I found myself stressing and asking: Am I sure I have this all worked out? How do I know I will find something I love to do? I was running through options like an auctioneer to my roommate at one point, desperately trying to figure out what I wanted to do after I graduated.
Even now, when I start getting overwhelmed or stressed over this issue, I have to stop and remind myself of a few things:
- I am not the only person to have dealt with this problem. There are plenty of people who didn’t know what they wanted to do when they started college, and they ended up finding their niche eventually. I found that talking with my friends helps take a huge load off my shoulders. Even if they aren’t in the same position, they are sympathetic and understanding about my concerns.
- It’s OK not to have everything planned out. Sometimes you make the best, most life-changing discoveries when you haven’t planned it.
- Once again, worrying about the future does nothing to change it. I’ve learned to focus on what I can control and be open to other options. Otherwise, I let it go. I try not to doubt myself and instead trust that I am making the right decision for me.
Remember Your Interests
The main thing that consoled me was that I knew where my interests lay. I knew that I loved reading, writing and learning and subjects like English and history, areas that I have excelled at and enjoyed throughout my years in school.
It’s easier to narrow down what options you should consider if you can identify what is important to you in a career and, most importantly, what are the fields of study you enjoy. If you have never liked science, why would you become a biology major? Likewise, there is no sense in pursuing a degree in history if you have always been bored by the adventures of days long gone.
Talk to Others and Be Honest with Yourself
If you don’t have any idea what you want to do whenever you start college, or if you get here with a plan and watch it crumble beneath you as you realize you aren’t passionate about what you thought you wanted to do, don’t worry. Talk to everybody — especially to people who are in your field of interest and people who are in other fields you might be interested in.
Keep an open mind about different options and be honest about what appeals to you. Discuss your misgivings with your friends — even if they can’t give you a way to solve your problem, venting your frustrations can make you feel a thousand times better and give you a clearer head. Try to gain experience through internships or classes in areas you are considering. That’s the best way to figure out if you are on the right path.
Most of all don’t think you are already locked into something. While it’s true that it is much easier to make a change earlier in your schooling, it’s all right if you become a junior and realize your passion lies somewhere else.
Talk to the people in your department, talk to your advisor and, in particular, listen to yourself. Be honest if you feel you need to make a change; you know yourself the best and you are the only one who can adjust your future.
Uncertainty Isn’t That Bad
In the end, I nailed down a few career paths that I feel are a fit for me. I haven’t locked onto one particular job yet, but I am at peace with that. I can afford to explore my options with the awareness that I will know when something fits. I make a conscious effort to remain open-minded and optimistic about my future, and it has helped prevent me from getting discouraged at all the choices available to me.
Ultimately, it’s OK to be unsure. If you find yourself doubting things, remember to talk to people and not to stress too much. Trust yourself, talk to people and be willing to try new things. Maybe you’ll end your college days as a professor of mathematics rather than a bioengineer as you had planned, but if that is where you truly belong, you won’t regret it for an instant.