College Kid Diaries: Why It’s Okay To Be Deciding

Sam

First off, I would like to specify that what I am further discussing is deciding on college majors, and not one’s sexuality. Although the thought does bring me back to a conversation my dad and I had a few weeks into my college career that went something like this:

Dad: “Do you have a boyfriend yet?”

Me: “No”

Dad: “Do you have a girlfriend?”

Me: “Um, no.”

Dad: “You just never know when kids get to college so I had to ask. Be careful when you start playing intramural softball, people might think things.”

End awkward conversation.

Now, I am halfway through my Junior year, and while my sexuality is most certainly un-changed, (not that it’s any of your business) my college major has, not once, not twice, but three times. So even though sharing my personal story will not give the answers on how to choose your own future, I’m hoping I can provide some friendly advice, and ultimately affirm that even if it doesn’t seem like it at first, EVERYTHING WILL EVENTUALLY PLAY OUT ITS COURSE.

So let’s go back to the beginning (no not my birth so keep reading.)

I’m a first generation college student who made the decision to attend UNI the summer before my senior year when attending an Iowa Leadership Training Camp that was hosted here. I fell in love with the campus. And liked that it still felt like a larger state school. The idea of being just a number scared me — not because I felt as though I would be dehumanized by my professors — but I knew the kind of person I was. Ya know, that kind of person who would only show up to take exams in bigger class settings because their professor wouldn’t know whether or not they attended class. I am also the kind of person that likes to bond with my educators, and ask for personal advice. Maybe that’s weird? But it ended up being helpful in finding my major of stud.So that was my first incredibly intelligent step in the right direction. To pick a university with more ideal and personable class sizes. A school where three years after having Me, the professors still know my name.

So there it began. I applied to UNI immediately in the fall, was accepted, then took on the next big step: deciding what I was even going to go to school for.As you can probably tell from what I said above, choosing a major was one of the most difficult things. But what was most insane is that while I was in middle school, through my junior year of high school, I knew exactly what kind of field to major. Electronic Media. But it came only when I had to actually make the commitment to a major that I started running in circles.

First, I was going to major in Psychology. Then, maybe it was Criminology? Then both. Then, I was deciding. Then it was Communication Sciences and Disorders and finally it ultimately was Electronic Media. My choice. The right choice.

For so many years I had been interested in all the things that Electronic Media had to offer. I was director of my middle schools TV broadcast station, I shadowed and participated in clinics at TV stations, I took tons of pictures and videos, and spent most of my junior and senior year sitting in the graphic design lab.

So tell me why? Why did I run from a passion I had for so many years all because of the pressure to pick a major that could* (at the time I thought it ultimately would) run the course of the rest of my life?

Because, in that moment, in every moment before finally deciding on the electronic media major, I never actually sat down and gave myself time to think about what I, Me, Sam, wanted. However, that ended up being the most beautiful mistake I could have ever made. Because, although I took some sharp turns in the opposite direction, I’m back on track. And satisfied with my decisions, more than ever.

One of the reasons I picked at all those other majors? Because I thought they were possible career paths my parents would be proud of. But that was silly of Me. Because, when you think about it, it’s not your parents that are going to be living their lives with this decision, it’s You and Me. Another reason I considered those majors, they had a high job placement. When I first started college, a huge issue was that college kids weren’t able to find jobs — and/or racking up major student debt going to school. Economics and unemployment rates are important things to consider, but another thing to consider is that you’re going to school in preparation to go out into the working world. Jobs are going to be created and you will be part of that pioneer, so don’t freak out about the possibility of not finding a career, you can just make one in the field you love. My third and final reason I am going to share for getting caught up in majors I wasn’t fully interested in-> because I thought that starting college, that beginning what I already know is some of the best four (might try and make it six [just kidding dad]) years of my life, meant I absolutely HAD to make the choice. I’ll admit I feel silly for believing I absolutely had to make a decision then and there, but when I was constantly being asked what I was majoring in and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I felt a sense of humiliation when I didn’t have an elaborate plan. After trial and tribulation I finally stopped, took a few seconds to catch my breath, and decided to do my homework… not only on college majors, but on myself. In the end, I’ve realized that is the healthiest thing a person can do for themselves, put their wants/needs first. So I made a list of my interests, looked up majors and the classes that could be found in them, talked to professors in different majors, and researched job opportunities.

There are all types of factors that will play some kind of role in deciding a major, I named the ones I felt that most affected me although in the end, some of them just really shouldn’t have. All you really need to know is that the absolutely most important thing to consider behind any choice you have in life, including deciding a college major is,  what is going to make YOU happy?

Unless the answer is something that will intentionally and painfully hurt someone, then it is probably the right answer.

I’m not going to lie, for those of you who are really worried about choosing a major, it is incredibly tough. For me I felt as though I was repeatedly hitting wall after wall and not only was that frustrating, but it became extremely discouraging at times. I had doubts about connecting to a major on a level that would be fulfilling in the way it should be, meaning in the end, I feared it wasn’t going to be worth all the time, money, and effort I put into it. However, the major that will be satisfactory to you will be the one that interests you, the one that assists you in getting a career you’re going to enjoy, the one that at the end of the day makes you happy even if it frustrates you at times (like a significant other.) I am my biggest critique and often put unnecessary pressure on myself, my own parents will tell you that, and in this story that happened to be my biggest downfall. Your major shouldn’t have to suggest anything more than the fact it is something you are truly interested in for yourself.

Don’t think for a second I am trying to scare you with my story, I am actually trying to place the importance of putting yourself first in every decision you make, and reminding you to not be so hard on yourself. Constantly worrying and having the mindset that you need to pick a major right away WILL NOT be a helpful move, just consider my story. Regardless, you can’t just sit in your room, close your eyes, and wait for the answer to knock you straight in the face and take you away to live the life you desire. It will require some searching on your part. Searching on what you want out there in the real world and searching for what opportunities surround you. It will take time, it might even take some blood, sweat, and tears, but it is out there and it is definitely within reach. There is absolutely no shame in taking all the time you need, obviously it is more convenient to find out sooner, but the biggest thing to understand is sometimes things don’t happen like that. The sooner you accept this truth, the sooner you will be able to take on the present and the future, with all their ups and inevitable, yet wonderful downs.

So if you can’t decide on a major (or even if you have)…

Explore your options, enjoy the ride, and through it all create your own happiness- because at the end of the day YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE, and you’re not any less important if you’re “deciding” -so it’s okay to be.