I have always felt like an indecisive person. I was always insecure because it seemed like this quality of mine prevented me from doing what everyone else could and would: figure out what to study in college, actually enjoy it, and be on the road to a successful career. When I was a freshman in college, whenever others comforted me with “You’ll figure it out!” and “Something will find you when you least expect it!” I really wanted to believe them.
In my first year of college, my major was “Undecided.” I took that label to heart. When I introduced myself to new people, I had nothing to identify with, and some people didn’t understand how I could be clueless as to my own path in life. I was stuck in the middle of worrying about what other people thought of me, and worrying about what I thought of myself. If I saw myself as “behind” and “lost” and “unable to make decisions,” maybe everyone else did too.
Looking back now, as a senior, I wish I felt less shame and stress about my perceived lack of direction in life. I found out that my parents and friends and teachers were right. Worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet doesn’t get you any closer to an answer. Maybe more importantly, I learned how to trust myself. Deep down, I knew that I would figure out what to major in and be just fine, but I suppressed this sense because it felt like such a faraway decision.
I declared my major as English as my university was shutting down for Covid quarantine in March 2020, and I felt disillusioned. I started my English coursework the following fall, and the semester was deeply difficult for me. I went to campus once a week for one short in-person class, and the rest of my classes were online. Since I had never experienced online school or the types of literature classes I was taking, I couldn’t tell what was making me so stressed and upset.
My next bout of shame arrived when I began questioning my major again. I wanted to switch from English to computer science or information systems. I was convinced that I made the wrong decision, and that studying something with clear answers, albeit difficult concepts, would serve me better. After fighting with myself for a few months, I decided to stay with English (with a concentration in creative writing) and pursue computer science as a minor, and I lasted long enough. I’m graduating in seven months (brb, crying).
Once I decided to continue studying English, I was genuinely embarrassed about how I briefly wanted to change my major in the fall of 2020. No matter how hard I tried, it was like I couldn’t win. I couldn’t find one place to be happy and stay there. As you may imagine, I’ve had sentiments of imposter syndrome throughout college, and many of my decisions led to the loudest voice in my head, saying, “You’ll obviously never figure it out. You’re just putting yourself in places that you don’t belong.”
I can’t lie and say that I still don’t feel that way sometimes. I wonder how different I would feel if I left high school knowing exactly what I wanted to do. But, in a way, I did know—I just didn’t believe it. I thought I would major in history or English, but I was scared that I was wrong. Wrong about who I was and where I would end up. Now, I see that all of these phases were just part of the process—and that is okay. I know that I care about my academics and I always wanted to do something that I truly enjoy. If it took a little bit of extra time to discover that passion, I’m proud of myself for working through that. I combined two opposite areas that I am interested in, and I have learned so much just by allowing myself to try new things and enter different fields.
I’ve been feeling very reflective lately as my graduation is slowly (and painfully) approaching. Last week, I got emotional while reading for one of my literature classes. I felt so unbelievably grateful that I didn’t change my direction in life. I love what I do: reading, writing, and thinking in classrooms where everyone has different interpretations of the same words in front of them. We are supposed to think outside the box. I am finally allowing myself to do so, and not to worry about what others think, and it feels wonderful.
So, dear freshman, undecided me: You will figure it out. I think you knew what to do all along. Listen to your heart, I promise it will tell you what’s right or wrong. And, most of all, I’m proud of you.