As early as kindergarten, students are repeatedly asked what they want to be when they grow up. This only intensifies in high school. Every family member at every holiday event wants to know what career(s) you are interested in and what you want to major in at college.
For me, the plan changed every year. Rockstar at age 7, journalist at age 14, doctor at age 16. I’ve truly wanted to be everything and anything. When it was finally time to go away to a big, scary university and decide my future, it came to the final battle: biology vs. politics. I loved learning weird, interesting facts about plants and animals and at the same time I felt pulled by a career in politics, more specifically the social change that I could attempt to enact to make the world a better place.
I eventually decided on Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and am loving it. My deciding reasoning might be useful for those of you who are at a similar crossroads as I was three years ago, unsure of what career to pursue or major to declare.
I might sound crazy at first, but hear me out. Stop thinking of it as pursuing a career for a minute. Stop focusing so intently on the career at all. Instead, think of it as following passion. Life flies by, so why not enjoy as much of it as possible?
What I mean by this is don’t forget about the now. While I like to keep up with the news and am passionate about politics, I knew that biology classes themselves would be much more enjoyable to me than politics classes. I took it one step at a time then, the same strategy is helping me now as I research doctorate programs across the country.
By choosing a major that you love and are happy getting up and going to class for, you are doing yourself a huge favor. Not only will you enjoy your college years even more, but it might eventually lead to a career that is incredibly fulfilling that you may have not thought of before.
Even though I’m getting my Bachelor’s degree in Ecology & Evolution, I have discovered so many avenues by not having my end goal set in stone. Although not knowing what the future holds means that I am in freefall, it also means that I am happy right now, learning things that I am passionate about. Who knows, maybe I will end up in politics after all of this.
It is of course important to have career ideas and options for the future in mind, but as the great Billy Joel sang in his song Vienna, “Slow down, you’re doing fine/ You can’t be everything you want to be/ Before your time.”
Let yourself enjoy life as much as you can, every step of the way.