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Mental Health

Finding Yourself After Getting Rejected From Your Dream Major

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t always dream about becoming a designer. It was a thought that grew into something so much more in my last year of high school. Before that, I had convinced myself that I wanted to become a doctor, mainly because my parents wanted me to pursue a respectful, stable and high paying career path. But after looking back at my childhood and the countless number of paintings, drawings, other bits of crafts that I had collected over the years, I managed to partially convince my parents that I belonged in a more artistic field. In the months that followed, my passion for creating reignited as I started curating my portfolio for college. Even though I was confident that this change in direction was the right one for me, I still felt insecure in what I created because people train for several years to prepare for art school and I had barely a year to catch up. But luckily for me, I got into UW as a premajor and planned to work super hard to get into the design program so that I could finally take the first step in my new journey.

So when I found out that I got rejected, I was devastated. My mental health deteriorated and I would have panic attacks every other day. This affected my physical health and I would find myself at the hospital, having trouble catching my breath. Is my work really that bad? Did I make the wrong decision? All I did was follow my heart. I was so badly hurt because of how emotionally invested I was in this dream. I felt that by majoring in design, I would finally get to be a part of a community that embraced who I was, understood me, and encouraged my creativity, after having to be a completely different person throughout my school years and not receiving support from my family. I wanted to find who I was after the slate was cleaned, by doing what I loved doing the most. And now, I felt like I was going backward.

After considering all my other options, I decided that it was best for me to major in art, even though I was always wary of doing so. A part of it had to do with my upbringing and the competitive community that I grew up in that never considered art to be a decent field to pursue because of the lower pay and lesser job opportunities. But, there was a part of me that was also scared of the freedom that comes with art and of putting myself out there as unfiltered as artists do while being open to judgement and criticism. Design, on the other hand, lets you be creative in constraints and has a list of rules that you have to follow, which is why I’ve always felt more stable pursuing design. Maybe art is my calling, but I’ve never been confident enough in myself and my work to accept this. Either way, this experience led me to be more open and work on another skill that would help with my creativity.

It’s almost been a year since this happened and I’ve become much stronger than to allow one rejection to stop me from doing what I love to do. Whether it be art or design, I’m not going to stop creating and realizing my true self. And, my work has been rejected many times after and will continue to in the future. That’s the thing about pursuing a creative field, your work is not going to please everyone. I’m still scared of what the future holds. But, I’m constantly preparing myself by joining design clubs, doing online courses and internships in design so that I can be as educated as those who are majoring in design. I’ve realized that it’s not really about what you major in, but your dedication and passion for what you want to major in. And, I've also realized who I am - an artist and designer, but much more because of how all my experiences have shaped me. If after graduation I am rejected from every job that I apply for, I'm now confident enough in my work to start my own business and sell my art and designs.

Mahak Saxena

Washington '23

Mahak is a sophomore at UW, majoring in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts. She enjoys designing, listening to music, taking photos and learning about Astronomy. She aspires to work in the fashion industry and create representation for minorities.
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