I have now been back at school for a little over a month and the experience this time has been completely unrecognizable from my freshman year of college. My freshman year was this incredible, life changing experience that I couldn’t get enough of. Everything was new and fun and exciting and I was hopeful about my remaining three years of college, but also about the future after that. The opportunities seemed endless.
This year, my sophomore year, I am no less in love with my school, I am still enjoying the courses I am enrolled in, and I still believe that I have many opportunities that I can pursue while I’m still in school and after I graduate. However, something is just different.
People look at me funny, almost pityingly, when I don’t have a good enough answer to their “What’s your major?” or “What are you going to do after you graduate?” questions. I personally don’t understand the looks I get. Should I know the answers to those questions? I’m only 20. I don’t quite trust myself to make the decisions that will most likely effect the rest of my life. There are so many different things I want to do. Life isn’t as short as people say it is. There are a host of post graduation paths I want to pursue, a variety of careers that I would be interested in. How does anyone pick just one?
I look at and listen to some of my peers around me and am nothing short of amazed. They have a 5 year plan, a 10 year plan, and they could probably tell me where they want to be 20 years from now. I, on the other hand, don’t know what courses I want to enroll in next semester. I am struggling to pick a major in time for the deadline before Spring Break. The idea of planning my entire life around the decision I make as a 20 year old undergraduate student is terrifying. My frontal lobe isn’t fully developed! How am I supposed to make good decisions if my decision making cortex isn’t developed?!
Every day, and you can ask my boyfriend because it is literally every day, I change my mind on what I want to do with my life and where I want to live it and how. Some days I wake up and I have grand plans to go through with professional school, to get my Ph.D and be an English professor. Some days I wake up and I want to quit school, take my savings and move West to be a ski or yoga instructor. Some days I want to own my own gym, bar, or restaurant in the most chic of cities. And some days I want to be Carrie Bradshaw and write a sex and relationship column. I don’t know why I can’d do all of these things at some point throughout the next thirty to forty years. That seems like plenty of time to do all of those things, however there is so much pressure to decide. To make one really good, solid decision that will determine the course my life takes.
This feeling of being stuck and unsure, I have found, is common amongst my sophomore friends and peers. Many of us are applying for study abroad programs for our junior years, internships for this coming January term, and trying to find relevant work experience to help us get a job or move on to some sort of professional school after we graduate. Accomplishing these things means meeting deadlines, utilizing your network (I’m 20, what kind of network do I have?!), and incredible time management.
I have a job here on campus, a much heavier course load this semester, extracurriculars that I am involved in and now I am faced with making more decisions that will certainly affect my future on top of all of that. Luckily, I have an amazing support system who will believe in any decision I make, so I’m not too worried about pleasing them.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, what I’m worried about is making the wrong decision.