If you could skip forward in time and have the education, time and money, what would you be doing? Where would you be? Who would you be with?
After asking someone what their major is, these are the first questions I follow up with. And, unfortunately, it is common for someone to quickly respond with, “Oh, I’d be traveling the world as a journalist,” or, “I’d open up my own coffee shop.” People respond as if these are just dreams and not completely attainable, accessible goals.
Here’s the thing about college—now is the best time to relentlessly pursue whatever knowledge we need to set ourselves up for the lives we really want. Chances are, whatever makes your chest burn with excitement is what you are meant to be studying. If you find yourself compromising your health and energy to study information that makes you want to rip your hair out, maybe ask yourself why that is the case.
I’m not saying that pursuing what you’re passionate about will mean that you will love every little thing that you have to study or learn along the way. Oftentimes, you don’t get that feeling of burning satisfaction with what you’re doing until the project or assignment is completed. However, if you don’t get that feeling at any point in the journey that makes the hard work worth it, you might want to take the time to check in with your intentions.
Ask yourself: Why am I in this major? Do I just want to make money? Do I not think myself smart or capable enough to pursue something else? Am I studying this for my parents sake? Am I afraid that if I follow what I’m really passionate about I would not be as “successful” as I could be with a more “secure” job?
For some, a career is just a means of survival, and they pursue what they really love outside of their jobs. And that’s fine! Take for example a travel nurse who accepts a six-month work contract so that afterwards she has the financial freedom to backpack across Europe. Your career doesn’t necessarily need to be what you live for. But, whether you like it or not, it ends up being a major part of your life anyways.
Talk to your advisor, and don’t be afraid to be completely honest about how you feel about what you’re studying. Ask them what different options and opportunities your major is setting you up for in the future. Most importantly, be honest with yourself. Pinpoint whatever it is that makes you feel most fulfilled, and put yourself in the way of it.
When you’re walking in the right direction, you’ll find that your path will begin to expose itself. You’ll start finding more people who share your interests, people who feel as passionately as you do and teachers who want to help guide you through the journey. You just have to ask yourself, and ask honestly: “what makes me feel fulfilled?” The rest will work itself out along the way. You just have to keep seeking.