Make sure your major is right for you, but don’t let it define your whole life

Sophomore year, I had the most soul-crushing breakup of my life.

Our relationship had never been easy. But what I had once doted on adoringly was suddenly burdensome. I felt unappreciated, burned out and frustrated. I just didn’t know if I saw a future anymore. I finally decided that I’d had enough. And with that, journalism and I broke up.

The next few months were all nervous tears, tubs of Ben & Jerry’s and miserable reconstruction of my life goals. I didn’t know where I belonged anymore. The worst emotion I felt, weirdly, was guilt. It was so hard for me to think that I’d lost so much time in my life thinking I’d do the one thing that I dumped like some expired refrigerator item. I felt like changing my major would render anything I’d done thus far a huge waste of time.

It took a few months, but I finally made amends with the degree of my heart’s desire. I’d been working too hard and doing too much. I realized I just had to let it be the thing I loved doing. But what if it had happened now, as a senior? Sometimes, people really do have to move on and find a better fit, which seems inconceivable in a place and time in which we’re supposed to be fine-tuning our “thing,” not still trying to find it. I may have found my life’s calling, but I know I’m one of the lucky few. A good friend of mine changed her major just this semester as a senior. I wondered at first, “Is this girl crazy for going all ‘Runaway Bride’ on her major so close to walking down the aisle?”

It’s senior year, and suddenly, we’re all no longer “students.” I’m the “future journalist.” My roommates aren’t just the girls I once giggled with in Garner Hall — they are “the future engineer,” “the future veterinarian” and “the future occupational therapist.” At this point in college, we’re set on a straight path to future success, and we don’t like to stray from it. We’re all creatures of habit. We have classes with all of the same people. We have the same friends that we’ve had for four years. We frequent the same late-night establishments as people who are exactly like us. These are the things that define us. And we like it that way.

It can be so easy to forget the parts of yourself that existed before you were an “accounting major” or “pre-med.” I used to be pretty good at math, for example. But when I came here and found out hopelessness at math was a widespread and accepted characteristic of journalism students, my math tolerance fell to the wayside.

I finally realized this was no way to live.

I think studying abroad made me realize how easy it is to become one-dimensional when you’re only focusing on your “thing.” In Vienna, I was completely and suddenly submerged in everything new. People who were nothing like the friends I had at home, a language that may as well have been North Pole-ese and five months of more-or-less living out of a suitcase. An entirely new life without the things I felt most defined me when I was home. And you know what? I was fine. I was better than fine. I realized it is possible to be more than those things.

It doesn’t have to be as drastic as swapping your major or finding all new friends. All it takes is a little self-appraisal. I’ve gotten in the habit of asking myself once a week: “What is my life missing?” And forgive me for proselytizing, but my life has never been better. Remember that first, fleeting week of freshman year, when you and your world were these huge expanses of possibility?

Make that week every week. Instead of charting your course, putting your feet up and letting yourself coast, stop every now and then. Think about where you’re heading. Do you still want to go there?

Unless you’re really lucky, no one in college is going to stop and ask you if what you’re doing is what you really want. So ask yourself.

_Megan is a senior in Media._