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Why It’s Okay to Not Know Your Major

Some people pick up a scalpel before they pick up a rattle. Some people write their first novel before their tenth birthday. Some people walk onto this earth knowing exactly what their life’s plan is. And that’s great for those people. Really. But I am not one of those people.

When I was little I proudly announced to my parents that I would grow up to be the best teacher/gymnast/lawyer hybrid the world had ever seen. There was a period in middle school where I got super into Grey’s Anatomy and decided I would be a pediatric surgeon (High school chemistry beat that out of me real quick). And when the time came for me to go off to college, I really didn’t have much more of a clue.

Fortunately, I go to a liberal arts college where I am free to try out any class in any field I desire and don’t need to officially ~declare a major~ until the end of my sophomore year. Unfortunately, I am not really a go with the flow kind of girl. I have always been someone who needs a plan – I keep like six calendars and live by my daily planner. 

I spent a lot of the first semester definitively announcing a new major every week. “Definitely poli-sci” I announced at the end of September. “Okay for sure anthropology” I proclaimed when October rolled around. Then it was public policy, then on to international studies, and then finally I realized something.

I am nineteen years old. I’ve only been an “adult” for one full year. So it is okay. It is okay that I don’t know what I want to be for the rest of my life. It is okay that I don’t know what I want to devote these four years of study to at the beginning of the first semester. It’s okay to not have a plan. Because having a plan and sticking to it, while sometimes great, often does not work out. Forcing myself to stick to some plan just for the sake of having one would only make me miserable. I would end up in a career I didn’t love wishing I had taken more time to explore.

So if you knew you wanted to be a doctor since you could talk and then you take your first college anatomy class and would rather be anywhere else, it’s okay. If you always knew you were a born accountant and your business school classes make you miserable, that’s okay too. And it will be okay. If your first major doesn’t work out, don’t jump straight into another one just to have a direction. Give yourself some time and do some exploration and some self-reflection. You’ll figure things out for yourself eventually.

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