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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Ever since I was in middle school, I had my life planned out, including my graduation and finally landing my “dream job”. More than that, I wanted to make my family proud and prove to them I was capable of becoming a surgeon, and that I was fully aware of the steps I had to take in order to achieve that goal. After all, I grew up listening to my cousins constantly talking about their college experiences in pre-med. My plan was to: 1. study Biology in the University of Puerto Rico, 2. join as many student organizations as I could, 3. get a good score on the MCAT, 4. earn my master’s and doctorate at the Recinto de Ciencias Médicas or an institution abroad, and 5. apply to work at a hospital. My teachers would often question my decision to become a doctor because they all seemed to think it made more sense for me to have a career that would require using my voice, like maybe Law or Communications.  Nevertheless, I was focused and determined. Everything seemed perfect … that was, until I started my first semester as a freshman at university. 

During my first semester, I took Biology, Chemistry, Calculus and Literature because I had taken the AP exams previously. Ever since the first day, everything felt overwhelming in the worst way possible. I’d always loved Science and Math, but I felt self-conscious about actually studying these subjects at a college level from the get-go. I frequently experienced trouble concentrating, I felt sad every single day, I lacked the motivation to study, and I would procrastinate and delay my academic duties whenever I had the chance. The only class that made me feel like I could be myself was Literature. I dismissed these feelings, believing they were probably just byproducts of other things going on in my personal life. I finished that semester with excellent grades, and yet I felt like I somehow wasn’t good enough. In my second semester, it happened: quarantine for two weeks, then a month, then the whole semester… Fast forward to today, it’s been abundantly clear that COVID-19 has affected everyone’s life in different ways. In my case, it made my mental health decline rapidly. My room has always been my favorite place in the whole world, and to have it become my classroom, my library, and the place where I slept, all at once, was hard. If I had trouble concentrating in my first semester, my second semester was even more challenging. The transition from taking in-person to online classes really changed my perspective. The flood of these conflicting emotions led me to question how sure I felt in studying Biology, and even if it was what I actually wanted to study. I even debated with myself about changing majors or just finishing my degree as it was, with an added minor in Education or a subject along those lines. 

However, once again, I downplayed my feelings because I thought the pandemic was making everything weird. In my second year, I took Organic Chemistry, Physics, Humanities and Social Science. Everything was great … until it wasn’t. I like to think that OCHEM was the tipping point wherein I knew this major just wasn’t for me. I found myself at the bottom of a deep dark hole and I didn’t know how to get out. I would cry myself to sleep every single night, and absolutely dreaded waking up because I knew I had to study and /or prepare presentations and notes for my classes. Soon enough, the start of my second year morphed into yet another semester in my room feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t want to admit to myself that I truly disliked what I was studying for the sole fact that it made me feel like I was letting everyone down (including myself) ー even when my grades were perfect. Hence, I woke up every day, tried my hardest and willed myself to just pull through. 

A small part of me knew that it was time to face the music; the thought of studying Medicine for years, only to then work at a hospital made me physically ill. I couldn’t stand thinking that this was going to be my life because I was too afraid of disappointing every person that loved me. I had no idea what to do, much less know what else to study. I was lost, confused, and desperate. My family didn’t know I was experiencing all of this turmoil, because the only people that knew about what was really going on were my closest friends. It was one of them who, one day out of nowhere, sent me website links of two different majors with a text that read “Leave Natural Sciences, you’re suffering in vain.” I think that was another pivotal moment for me, where everything suddenly became more real and clear ー as if every one of my questions regarding my future was answered within that text. I will always be grateful for my friend who made me realize that I actually deserved a chance to be happy. Immediately, I called and emailed the right people to officially change my major. Nobody knew I was doing this because I felt that if I talked to someone about it, my small (but incredibly significant) act of bravery would disappear in an instant. 

And just like that, I changed majors. For my second semester of my sophomore year, I was taking classes for my new major: Creative Writing with a second concentration in Public Relations and Publicity ー two things I never in my life would’ve imagined studying. I’ve always loved reading, writing and being active on social media, but I hadn’t ever thought that I would give myself an opportunity to study it as a potential career. It took some time for me to open up and tell my family and friends because I was scared of their reactions, not to mention terrified of disappointing them. Despite my fears, I knew deep down that this was the right choice for me. I told them little by little: through texts, letters, and in-person conversations. Every time someone would question my decision, I would feel like a part of me would shrink and the feeling of not being good enough would grow and take over. But if there was one thing that hasn’t changed about me, it’s that I’m very determined, and absolutely no one could make me change my decision. It took time, but soon enough, I had the biggest support system I could ever dream of.

Another important thing I did was seek professional help to learn how to cope with the transition and everything that came with it, including dealing with anxiety. That moment during my first appointment when I told my therapist that I changed majors and still felt a lot of fear about it was quite a beautiful moment in and of itself, considering her answer to my nervous revelation was “I also changed majors and look at me now”. Her kind words made me understand that I wasn’t alone, and that I could make it just like she did. Going to therapy helped me immensely and it’s a resource I will never stop recommending to people.

Life can be as long-lasting as it can be ephemeral. After taking this thought into consideration, I chose to be happy. I chose to spend a life doing what I love instead of doing what everyone expects me to do. I would rather learn valuable lessons in my classes instead of memorizing terms that I would forget as soon as I finished a test. Although it’s often nerve-wracking when people ask me what I’m currently studying, because it almost always comes with the “What are you going to do with that?” follow-up question, I can say that I feel content whenever I reply, “I don’t know, I’m still figuring it out”. It shouldn’t be taboo to change majors, to not graduate “on time”, to figure things out, or to not study a STEM career. I believe those taboos are a waste of time because everyone is different, as are their respective journeys. If you ever find yourself doubting your major because you don’t feel happy, don’t be afraid to take a moment to reflect and think about what you want versus what society wants for you. Because I seized that moment, and I can confidently say it was the best decision I have ever made.

Nahiria I. Rivera Dieppa is a writer and social media co-director at Her Campus at UPR. Along with her co-director, she handles the planning, posting, and creation of all the content posted to socials associated with HC at UPR. Nahiria's preferred articles discuss life experiences she has found impactful as well as review books she enjoys. While she is double majoring in Creative Writing and Public Relations and Advertising at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, any team she has been part of outside of Her Campus has been focused on PR and Advertising. She interned in BRAAVE Tribe Collab for the first half of 2023 where she participated in events such as Cumbre Afro 2023. Afterwards, she lent her skills at Infopáginas Media for a summer internship where she analyzed data from small and medium businesses. Nahiria's passion towards writing is directed at Her Campus articles because, in her spare time, she would rather read. Despite what the many physical books on her bookshelf might suggest, fanfiction is where her interest lies most often. Aside from reading, Nahiria loves listening to music (her entire BTS collection can testify), traveling, and spending quality time with friends.