It’s OK That You Aren’t Who You Thought You’d Be

When I was in high school, I had everything planned out for my future.

However, I knew that was subject to change, but I also knew what my passions, interests and goals were.

Looking back now, as I’m almost halfway through college, the outlook of that high school girl seems almost unrecognizable.

But here's the thing: outlooks change and that’s not a bad thing.

It’s OK if you aren’t who you thought you’d be.

When we were younger, we were constantly asked about who we wanted to be and what we wanted to do with our lives.

We created these scenes in our heads of what we would be doing and who the people surrounding us would be.

As we grew up, those things changed. 

Change is inevitable. Whether it be on an internal or external level, change in life will occur time and time again. Sometimes change can be a very scary thing, especially when you first recognize it within yourself.

When I was a high schooler, I was highly praised for the work that I did.

It was the classic big fish in a small pond story.

I was commended so often for certain parts of my life that I thought I wanted to base my career and life off these things, because I knew I was good at them.

I told everyone my dreams and made my way into UF, thinking I was going to continue my legacy of writing and photography and get to show everyone back home, and myself, what amazing things I was capable of.

When I came to UF, it’s not that I wasn’t a big fish anymore (although it felt like it), I was just surrounded by thousands of other big fishes in an even bigger pond, all trying to find their way.

Once I got acclimated to my new surroundings and classes, I realized I had no clue what I was doing.

I knew that change was going to happen, and I knew that was OK, but I didn’t expect it to feel how it did.

I felt almost ashamed that I wasn’t doing what I thought I was going to.

I felt embarrassed to tell people back home, who knew me as a successful freelance photographer, that I hadn’t had a photoshoot in months.

I felt very self-conscious about my writing skills which quickly turned into stress about my major and career path.

I was constantly comparing myself to my peers thinking, “Oh my god, I’m not in that club or doing that extracurricular...” or “I don’t belong at this school, it’s too good for me. I don’t even know who I am at this point...”

I knew I wasn’t alone. I had talks with my friends, peers and other adults about how everyone has self-doubt and that we can't expect ourselves to live up to expectations that we set for ourselves years ago.

Jenny Slogar is a 21-year-old digital arts and sciences senior who thought she had her college path figured out.

In high school she was great at programming and calculus. As a freshman, she majored in engineering, but she began to resent her classes. After some research, she figured out digital arts and sciences would be a better fit.  

“I prepared a portfolio and was accepted in the upper level coursework and ever since then I have felt like I'm in the right field,” Slogar said. “I felt a little ashamed at first, like I had failed since I switched from engineering to art.”

She says that sometimes art majors are not viewed in a positive light. She didn’t want people to think she gave up on engineering because she wasn’t smart enough.  

“I got nothing but positive responses to my switch, and the only critique was my own,” Slogar said. “I love art in a way I would never have loved engineering. Making that change was a huge leap of faith, but it turned out incredible, and I learned so much about myself during the process.”

Like Jenny, I’ve learned a lot about myself.

I have learned through my experiences that I haven’t disappointed that teenage girl.

She didn’t quite understand what college, life work, and relationships really entailed, so of course she had unrealistic and romanticized expectations.

Instead of dwelling on everything I am not, I try to focus on the things I am.

Although it’s difficult, reminding yourself that you’re doing just fine is essential.

It can feel like the walls are caving in, but they aren’t, and there’s no need to stress yourself out over changes in yourself that are bound to happen.

Change can be such an amazing thing, I have learned so much about myself not only with what I want out of life, but what my values are.

I’m excited to see how I am going to change in the years to come. 

I still have my passion for photography, and my interest and goals with writing.

I just now have a better understanding of what those mean.

We need to learn to embrace and love all that we are.

The reality is that you’re going to continue to evolve for the rest of your life. 

You don’t always have to be exactly what you thought you’d be; you’re allowed to reinvent yourself as many times as you want.