“Hi!! I’m a sophomore in college and I think I’m gonna change my major (for the second time). I’m really nervous about it and scared of what my parents will think because I’ve already made a change once, but I know I need to make the decision and pursue something I care about. I was wondering if you had any advice for making big decisions like these/shaping your career to what you want it to be.”
My Dearest Bad Biddie,
You don’t know this now, but barring a few selective professions (ie. medicine, law, the sciences), what you major in in college really has no bearing on your life after college. The younger you are (and trust me, coming from a crusty 32-year-old like me, YOU ARE YOUNG), the more you think that every decision you make will determine the fate of your existence forever and ever. It doesn’t. You can make mistakes, change your major four more times, pick the wrong job out of college, but eventually still end up where you need to be. While I can’t tell whether you’re more nervous about making a change or whether you’re more nervous about telling your parents you’re going to make a change, I can tell you this: that you already know what you must do, and therefore it’s not a question of whether you’re going to do it, but when.
I dearly hope your parents are the supportive types that every sophomore in college needs – the ones that understand that at twenty or twenty-one years old, most of us are just running around grasping at whatever we think might make us happy one day, but not entirely sure as to what exactly will. But, even if they’re not, you can lean on the fact that deep down, you at your core know what you need to do to be happy, and that alone is half the battle. There are a lot of adults well past college-age that still don’t know what they need to do to find the joy in their lives.
I graduated from NYU in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies. What does that mean? I still don’t know. My running party joke is that I majored in nothing, and there’s perhaps some truth in that. I spent my college years taking discussion-based liberal arts courses and Chinese classes. Outside of the classroom, I spent a lot of time making bad decisions that, by the grace of God, did not kill me. While most of what I remember from those four years wasn’t so much of what happened inside the classroom, I still, to this day, remember one class in particular. It was called The History of Kindness (some NYU liberal arts classes had funky names that were more reminiscent of NYTimes Bestsellers than they were of undergrad courses). This class discussed all the ways we define kindness, or really, all the ways we define anything. It was a class that taught me that so much of life lives in the grey, murky spaces – places that are more up for debate than they are for conclusions. In a world that is constantly teaching us what to believe, The History of Kindness taught me to question why we even believe what we believe.
In the nine years since I left college, I have continued to question many of my decisions, both personally and professionally. I have started careers, stopped careers, questioned if I should have started another career while in a different career, and every space in between. Not once did I look back and regret majoring in something rather than nothing. My major didn’t matter then, and it doesn’t matter now. I don’t say this because I think you should throw caution to the wind and major in, say, marine biology, when what you really want to major in is theology because some internet biddie told you none of it matters. I say this because I want you to take some pressure off of yourself on this one decision. A life well-lived is a life comprised of many decisions, some of which may seem inconsequential to you at the time you make the decision. You won’t know which decisions are the right ones until long after you’ve made them, but just remember this: you can’t move forward without first taking a step, so go for it – take the plunge and allow yourself to see what unfolds.
Your internet hype woman