The Freeing Fulfillment of Switching Majors

When I graduated from high school, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my future. I knew where I wanted to go to college, I knew the field of study I wanted to major in, and I knew the career path that was waiting for me. Looking back now, maybe I was a bit naive to assume that I’d already had everything figured out at eighteen-years-old. Since then, I’ve changed absolutely everything about the original path I set out to take after I graduated and I don’t regret any of it in the slightest.

My original plan was to attend community college in order to obtain an associate degree before transferring to a university to get a bachelor’s degree in English. I’m a massive bookworm, so I had convinced myself that I wanted to go into the publishing industry. At the time I hadn’t done any actual *research* on this industry and that was definitely my first mistake. How was I so sure about a career that I knew next to nothing about? I wanted to be some sort of editor in a publishing house because obviously the dream job for someone who loves reading would be to make a career out of it, right? I’d seen this exact journey work out perfectly for so many other people, so I was certain about the trajectory of my future.

Fast forward to community college classes. I was still majoring in English and the classes that I was being presented with were starting to discourage me a lot. Reading had been my passion since I was a kid, but when I saw the list of English classes that I’d have to take for my degree, something just felt… off. I was starting to realize that although books were my passion, I didn’t necessarily want to revolve my entire career around them. Reading is a hobby that I use to escape from the stressors of everyday life and suddenly I was finding myself disliking all of the readings that I was being given. I started to fear that I was slowly turning the pastime that I was devoted to into a burden that I didn’t want to shoulder. (I’m also definitely not implying that English is somehow a “bad” subject to major in because I still think it’s one of the best areas of study; it just wasn’t meant for me personally!)

It was in this moment that I realized that I had constructed a path for myself that I knew nothing about. Then it dawned on me that I honestly didn’t know what I even wanted to do with the rest of my educational career, let alone what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was panicked and anxious because I felt as if everyone else knew exactly what they wanted to do and I still didn’t have a clue about what I genuinely wanted. However, I now know that’s not true in the slightest. Not everyone has everything perfectly figured out when they start college. Not everyone knows the precise direction that they want their life to go in. And, contrary to popular belief, that is all completely okay and valid. It’s okay to switch majors if you change your mind and it’s even okay to stay undeclared for a while as you traverse through different subject areas in search of something that piques your interests. (In fact, 80% of college students change their majors at least once, so this is a very common struggle that students go through.)

person wearing gray taking notes in meeting Photo by Anna Earl from Unsplash When I realized that majoring in English wasn’t what I wanted to do, I decided that I needed to focus on discovering myself. I had a lot of passions; I just wasn’t sure which one of them I wanted to further develop into a career. Luckily, I had to take a lot of general classes for my associate degree and they definitely helped me start to consider the different options that I had. In a twist of fate that I’m still grateful for, I ended up taking a sociology course with one of the best professors that I’ve ever had. This class changed my entire perspective on life and it made me realize that the field of sociology was the exact niche that I’d been yearning. Every topic and theory that I came across absolutely captivated me. I eventually knew that I would love to develop a career within sociology in an attempt to make a positive change in society. I decided to switch my major to sociology and I finally felt as if I was on the right track with my education and my life. After getting my associate degree in the field of sociology, I transferred to UC Riverside, started pursuing an undergraduate sociology degree, and it felt as if I was finally in the right place in my life.

With all of that being said, I think what I learned the most throughout this entire experience is that it’s okay to make changes and to not completely know what you want your future to look like. Not every decision has to be permanent. It’s so important to make decisions based on what feels best for you. College gives us the chance to decide who we are and who we want to be. Whether that means switching majors or switching colleges or even not going to college, it is completely up to you. The most freeing thing that you could possibly do for yourself is to listen to your brain and your heart and find some sort of middleground between the two that leaves you feeling fulfilled, prepared, and, most of all, happy. Don’t box yourself in by limiting your options — the world is full of countless opportunities that you deserve to explore.