As a freshman entering the University of Utah, it seemed like every person I talked to was pre-med. The presence of a medical school on campus creates an environment where opportunities for premedical training are vast but competition is tough. Seeing many of my friends choose to go down this path made it feel like a natural choice. I also had dreams of going to school for 12 more years, doing homework every night for hours, and pulling all nighters on graveyard shifts. Just kidding, but I did have dreams of proving to everyone that I was smart enough to get into medical school and be an amazing doctor that cured cancer, or invented a birth control for women that doesn’t send them into complete emotional turmoil. The pressure to show my competence in science and put my work ethic to the test forced me to ignore my genuine feelings and follow a path I wasn’t one hundred percent committed to. And, when you’re pre-med, you need to be one hundred and ten percent committed if you want to succeed. It is a long, overwhelming career path that is only fulfilling if your heart is in the right place.
The hardest part about dropping pre-med is admitting that you were lying to yourself the whole time. And, in my case, it was even harder because it wasn’t a complete lie. I took Bio 1610 (a pre-med requirement) and loved it. I don’t mind blood at all, and I have always wanted to research women’s hormones; however, I also hate studying for more than an hour, I need eight hours of sleep every night, and I wanted a healthy balance of social and academic time. Half of my heart was in it, and pulling myself out was very hard. For months, I ignored my doubts and pushed on but, when I thought about the years ahead of me, dread filled my stomach. Admitting to everyone that I didn’t want to pursue medical school felt like losing. Losing what? I didn’t know, but I felt like it would make everyone think less of my intellectual capabilities.
When I finally decided to drop all of my pre-med courses and pursue an English degree, I was terrified. I thought about it all day, every day. I considered what kind of job security, income, and lifestyle I wanted in the future. The paycheck of a doctor seemed nice, but when I pictured myself as an English major, it felt right. It made me feel excited and inspired. Visualizing my future in as many details as I could conjure up helped me make the final call. I also listened to the song “Vienna” by Billy Joel, which was the final straw that convinced me to slow down and examine what I wanted out of life. Instead of following a path because it was the more economically rewarding and academically rigorous option, I chose to do what I actually wanted to do.
Now that I have started taking English classes, I have realized that English homework can be just as intellectually challenging and rewarding as homework from science classes. I find myself engaging with the material more and having a lot more fun. If you are majoring in something you don’t want to be, or following a path in life that leaves you with doubt, I suggest you step back from everything and think about what you really want. I know that is easier said than done, but through visualization of your future, being honest with yourself, and accepting that the prestige of certain careers is subjective ,you can find a path that feels right to you.