As my four years of undergrad come to an end, I look back at how much change happened, the important decisions I had to make, and the decisions I never thought I would have to make. I never thought I would transfer universities after two years, I never thought I would change my major, and I never thought I would not graduate on time. Yet here I am, May 2016 and I am not graduating.
If you know me, then you know I’m not a big fan of straying from any plan. While I am one to make multiple backup plans, I still like staying on the track I originally planned. So making all these life changing decisions and straying from my original plan was far from easy for me to make. I can roll with the punches, but not when it’s something as important as college and my career path. This was not something I was willing to let just happen to me. So I did what I always do, I made pro-con lists, multiple to-do lists, and researched my ass off and then that’s when the real work began.
The past two years have been tough to say the least. I left all my friends behind at Towson University to start all over again at the University of Maryland, College Park. I thought I was arriving at UMD to be a journalism major, to increase my chances at getting the dream, being a journalist for a major magazine. The reason for my switch was an intensive program with a name that carries. It was the key to my journalistic success because I wanted to make it big. The program would teach me more than I ever learned at Towson and would arm me with everything I need to be the best journalist I could be. That was the new plan. That was the reason I left everything I was familiar with, people I considered family. I thought that was the end of the reworking to my plan. Joke’s on me. Again.
I knew transferring wouldn’t be easy as pie, seamless, but I didn’t think it would cause me graduate a year and a half late. That was not ok, not in the plan, not something that could happen. Additionally, I wasn’t enjoying the program as much as I thought I would. There are a couple things I didn’t like, but most importantly, I felt like that it wasn’t the right move for me. Most importantly, I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. As a young adult, my desires, hopes, and dreams change so often. Honestly, the days of me being uncertain of what I want to do greatly outnumber the days that I do know what I want to do. Back in the day (alright, like 5 years ago), I was so sure of what I wanted to do with my life. I was so set on it and spent years convincing my family and friends that this was the right life plan for myself. It was all I ever wanted and more, so there was zero chance that I would ever change my mind, right? WRONG, apologies to my past self from the ages of 11-19.
Happiness is important to me. I know what you’re thinking, happiness is important to everyone. But really truly, I put my happiness above almost anything. My decisions may make others around me unhappy, but what matters to me is that I’m content with my life. It happened so quickly, I can’t even describe what was going through my head at the time. I changed my major in a split second decision to ensure that I would graduate on time and I took classes that were not exactly relevant to any specific career path, but classes that I enjoyed and felt I would grow from. While I was semi-unsure of what I wanted to do exactly, I knew I loved books, film, and all types of media and I loved interpreting it. I also love, love, loved women’s studies and any kind of feminist theory course. Therefore, I became an English Literature major with a concentration in gender and sexuality. A lot of the classes that I’ve taken since changing my major have revolved around that field and I’ve enjoyed every single one of them. It’s a little weird to call myself an English major because people jump to the conclusion that I’m going to be an English teacher (hard pass) or that I spend all my time reading old books (only sometimes). The other day I called myself an anomaly English major. I don’t seek to do any stereotypical career with my major. I don’t want to be a librarian, academic, or literature specialist. What people don’t realize is that English majors can do anything they want. The best skill to have in any field is to be a good writer and to be able to read something, analyze it, and gain a better understanding. Hello, what do you think English majors do? With an English degree, you can go on to law school, communications, business, PR, journalism, anything, I swear. I am so incredibly happy with my decision to become an English major. It’s not as much about graduating on time as it was before, but more about getting back to my roots. I grew up loving to read before I ever loved to write. Reading was my first love, writing came afterward in different forms. Becoming a journalist and heading down towards that path left me with little time to read for pleasure. Even though I changed my major, I can always return to journalism because my major is so flexible.
Fast forward a year and a half and I’m in my last full semester of undergrad. I’m not graduating on time. Instead, I’m graduating in August 2016 due to a few unsatisfied requirements. I could dwell on how upset I am that I’m not graduating in the originally attended month of May, but I choose to be bigger than that. Not graduating on time is fairly normal now. The pressure to take 5 3-credit courses each semester is tough for many, I know I certainly struggled with it. I’ve completed a few more internships and I’m closer to knowing what I could want to pursue professionally. I am still a plan girl, but I’m ok with this plan: I have the skills and talent to do whatever I choose, I just need to choose what will make me happier. Not graduating on time won’t kill me. It will give me more time to figure out what I want and add a few more skills to my resume along the way.
I have been afraid of change for a long time. Yet at the same time, I’ve always been so good at embracing change and making my own changes to accomodate it. So here I am, ready for the future without a concrete plan. I never would have imagined it, but I also never imagined making all the changes I have made the past 4 years. Here’s to life, the future, and all the changes to come.