Changing Your Major Can Feel Like a Messy Breakup
By age 18, some of us know exactly what we want to do with the rest of our lives. Some of us have already met the love of our lives by that point, too.
But a lot of us haven’t. And that’s OK.
One problem is that our lives can become so intrinsically woven around our majors and our significant others that it can seem unthinkable to consider making a change.
Well, sometimes you need to think about it. Here’s how to start.
Be Honest With Yourself
At the beginning of my last semester of college, my boyfriend and I had plans to go to my parents’ house for the weekend. At the last minute, he bailed on me for a reason I deemed not important enough. And there I was, making the two-hour drive by myself.
Suddenly, all our relationship problems that I’d been ignoring were at the forefront. Our strained conversations and awkward disagreements of late haunted me during that car ride.
I realized I was spending more energy convincing myself I was happy than actually being happy.
You might find yourself in a similar situation with your major. Maybe you’ve been at an event, like a conference or a community fair with your classmates, and noticed that your passion and enthusiasm about your career field didn’t come close to theirs. Or maybe you’ve noticed you just really don’t enjoy studying in your given major.
Don’t ignore those feelings. Let some of your doubts creep in and explore them.
Remember You Still Have Supporters
By the time I reached my parents’ house, I had totally freaked myself out. How could I be thinking these thoughts about my boyfriend? We had the same friends. And my family loved him. I was a horrible person.
My mom could tell something was up in that way that only moms know how. We stayed up late talking that night and I told her everything. She made it clear that no matter what, her top concern was for my happiness and well-being.
Remember that as you reconsider your major. Even if everyone you hang out with is from your academic program, they aren’t going to abandon you just because you change majors. Hopefully, your family isn’t going to turn their back on you, either. No matter what, remember that it’s a much bigger deal to you than it is to anyone else around you.
Here at Angelo State, we’re small enough that you may actually have a close relationship with a lot of the professors in your major. Telling them you’re switching fields may feel like you’re disappointing a parent. But if they really care, they will understand and wish you the best.
Think Long Term
As I blubbered to my mom about my boyfriend troubles, I said, “But we have to find a way to work through this. I mean, we’ve been together for three years.”
My mom, who’d been married for 25-plus years, looked at me and said, “Yes, you’ve been together for three years. But it’s only three years.”
And in that one statement, she released me.
She helped me see the big picture. In the grand scheme of things, is it worth staying in a miserable relationship just because you’ve invested a few years in it? What about the whole rest of your life?
The same goes for your major. Sure, maybe you’ve been studying in your given major for a couple of years and the easy thing to do is just finish out the degree. But then what? Waste the rest of your life working in a career that isn’t the right fit for you? Try to think more long term.
It took me two more months before I actually got up the courage to end that relationship. It was painful and messy and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
But I had to do it.
There are a few times in your life when it’s OK to put your own happiness first. And choosing a major (and a significant other) are definitely some of those times.
Just remember that you can’t ever give up. Just like you can’t curl up into a ball and waste away after a big relationship ends, you also shouldn’t drop out of college because you have realized you chose the wrong major. You have to keep going.
Best of all, you can learn from this and make your next choice – in love or in life – with more confidence in who you are and what you want.