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Life

My Journey of Deciding on a Major and Why Being Undeclared is OKAY

I came into Mason with a Neuroscience major, and now I’m a Communication major. I went from a B.S. to a B.A.

“Why?”

People still always ask me why I gave it up. The truth is, I didn’t just go from Neuroscience to Communication. My brain was a jumbled mess for the entirety of freshmen year, and frankly it still is as a sophomore student now. Not having a concrete life direction is extremely frustrating, especially when everyone my age seems to know exactly what they want to do with their lives. Meanwhile, I’m just sitting here, playing scenarios in my head, envisioning all the various options I have for my career. It’s not like I don’t know what to do, it’s just that I have too many things I want to do.

I wanted to be an author, a publisher, a literary agent, a dietitian, a counselor, a pharmacologist, a marketing director, an animator, an academic advisor and so many other things. Unfortunately, I can’t be everything.

All my life, I’ve been a science person. My mom’s a doctor and my dad’s in the pharmaceutical industry. I grew up really enjoying science, particularly biology, psychology and nutrition. I chose neuroscience at the beginning as I thought it was a good way to combine my passion for both biology and psychology, hoping to do interesting research about the human brain after I graduate.

Then, it hit me.

I love science, but I wanted to do something else in my life, something more.

I love the thrill of discovering the unknown, but I also love the joy of being able to contribute to society with creativity.

That’s when I decided I want to pursue a Marketing degree and possibly get into the advertising industry after I graduate. Not long after, I started having second thoughts about it. What drew me towards a Marketing degree was the creative aspect of it. However, the majority of the classes required are business, accounting and finance classes, which are not really my area of interest.

What if this major isn’t for me? What if there’s something else better suited for me? These thoughts were constantly in my head.

I started envisioning myself with another degree. I imagined myself getting a Psychology degree, a Tourism & Events Management degree, a Hospitality degree… and so many more.

Just when my head’s about to explode, I went to see an advisor. I came out of the advising session with a new sense of direction.

My academic advisor, my career advisor (I went to a 2-in-1 academic and career advising session) and I went through my passion for creativity and advertising, and my concerns about the business classes I have to take in order to graduate with a Marketing degree. Long story short, they identified a degree that is more suited for me – Communication.

I was taking a communication class that semester and really enjoyed it. I started recalling all those instances where I was really passionate about what I was learning. When I was writing essays for the class I would get really excited and type non-stop (typing WAY past the page requirement) – totally nerding out about communication and interpersonal relationships. When I’m meeting new people and thinking about all those communication theories applying to the situation, I’m silently cheering in my head.

Everything started clicking and falling into place.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t come out of the advising session being 100% sure about my future, but it was something. I found my path amid the mist. Even though I can’t quite see where the path is leading me towards, I know it’s leading me somewhere.

Who knows, I might switch my major again, perhaps to something entirely different. But it’s okay. Everything is going to be alright in the end.

I remember being so confused, lost and insecure when I was undeclared. Everyone else already has their major and post-grad life figured out and then there’s me, the person who always answers the question “What do you want to do?” with “Uh….”

Everyone says it’s fine, but we all know behind that smile, is this sympathy, concern and perhaps even slight judgment of whether you’re going to graduate on time.

This has to change.

After all, we’re just college students. We’re not even past one-fourth of our lives yet. We basically have zero life experience in the real world. It’s somewhat cruel and unfair, in a sense, to have us decide on what we want to do with the rest of our lives. The pressure from our future self and society has so much weight on our shoulders, it’s okay to be frustrated.

It is okay to be unsure.

It is okay to be confused.

It is okay to have second thoughts.

Embrace that uncertainty. Don’t let anybody pressure you into deciding on your future when you’re not ready yet. Just because you’re already halfway through college doesn’t mean you can’t switch your major again for the hundredth time. Don’t be afraid to keep changing your direction in life.

After all, what makes life so exciting is the uncertainty and fluidity.

Marina Li

George Mason University '21

Marina is a junior at George Mason University studying Communication with a concentration in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing and Tourism & Events Management. She is a social media coordinator, content creator and event planner. She is the kind of person who would burst out singing Disney, musicals, and Christmas songs out of nowhere. In her free time, she likes to watch corgi compilations, read, watch Netflix, think about life and experience repeated existential and identity crisis. Her dream job is to work with Pixar or Disney Studios.
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