“Maybe I should study [complete opposite of current major] instead…” and Other Pre-Professional Angst

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Declaration of Major.jpgMaybe it was being asked over Christmas dinner what I want to do with my life, anyway.  Or maybe it was talking to friends from home with majors that flow logically into a career path and feeling the need to overcompensate by saying, “I can do anything I want with this!” while actually meaning, “I have no idea what I want to do with this.”  Or maybe it was the regrettable decision to read the Forbes list of majors with the highest starting salaries.  But one way or another, during an interminable car ride – maybe it was my mom randomly bringing up how much I used to like building with Legos? – I found myself momentarily entertaining the idea that, maybe, I should have studied engineering instead of the questionable combination of English and social policy.

This thought was ridiculous, and also slightly alarming, for a few reasons.  First of all, my academic abilities do not exactly span the spectrum from math to science to foreign language to the humanities.  I did have a knack for basic algebra, but once triangles and graphs and logic got involved, well, let’s just say tutoring bills add up.  “But maybe I just wasn’t being taught in the right way?  Maybe that B I got in Physics was just a fluke?” I thought to myself as we drove by a billboard for an online university.  Maybe…but more likely, I’m just not particularly good at math and science.  Which brings me to second of all: the fact that I am blatantly not a math/science person.  Sure, scientific ideas are cool and technology is the future and it’s nice to have a basic understanding of the elements and forces that make up the world I live in, but it was hard to take that perspective after getting back a calc test with a number in the 60s or 70s written in the corner.

And that’s the thing: I have always loved English and Social Studies.  Not to mention the fact that I transferred so that I would be able to study more of the literature and sociology and education that I am truly interested in.  Worth mentioning that I am talking about this dilemma through writing.

The problem is not that I don’t love what I’m studying, but rather the fear that maybe there’s a major out there that I would love more, or that would lead to a happier life.  Call it academic FOMO.  Call it too much opportunity.  Call it crazy.  Call it what you will, but I figured that I couldn’t possibly be the only one who occasionally had these semi-irrational thoughts, so I asked my friends to tell me theirs.

  1. The Not-Quite Pre-Meds.

“When I was at my pediatrician over Thanksgiving, he reminded me of my childhood dream to be a doctor and told me that it wasn’t too late.  The pre-med ghost still haunts me as I suffer through my fourth research paper of the semester.” – Solange, sociology

“I didn’t even cringe that time on Grey’s Anatomy when McDreamy had to pull a piece of glass out of someone’s eyeball.  I could totally be a surgeon.” – Lauren, English

  1. The Freudian Leaper

“I realized in the middle of a voice performance in which I was playing a man that maybe I wanted to study psych instead.” – Megan, voice

  1. The James Patterson Wannabe

“I read books all the time, so like, why aren’t I an author?” Julia, chemistry

  1. The Almost Outdoors Leader

“I realized that I struggle to use public bathrooms, let alone trying to poop in the woods.” – Emma, history

  1. The Aspiring Astronaut

“Whenever I hear about outer space I think to myself “wow I would really love to study that”…but that’s not very practical, so instead I made my dorm room space themed and called it a day” – Sarah, art history

  1. The Just-in-Caser
    “I recently decided that I’m going to take the LSAT as a sort of “backup plan” in case I want to go to law school (since i always used to want to be a lawyer) even though it has 0 to do with my major.” – Jillian, interdisciplinary studies
  1. The Deterred-by-Numbers

“If I was good at math, I would definitely be studying astrophysics.” – Sam, journalism

“I considered switching my major from international security to geology…and then I got a 56 on my earth sciences final.” – Margo, international security

“They pulled up a graph and I walked out of the class.” – Alex, English

“I almost changed my major to Econ until I actually took an econ class and wanted to gouge my eyes out with a fork.” – Abby, political science

  1. And Finally: The Angsty Millennial

“Three or four times a month, I’ll get the urge to drop everything, move to Brooklyn, get a job bussing at a restaurant, share an apartment with four other twenty-somethings, and write poetry.” – Caroline, global ethics

I still have no clue what I’m going to do with my English and social policy majors, and I’ll probably always wonder what it’s like to be studying a subject that seems to guarantee a career.

But hey, I still have time for more car rides with mom to figure out where I’m going.


One thought on ““Maybe I should study [complete opposite of current major] instead…” and Other Pre-Professional Angst

    Maggie said:
    January 6, 2016 at 2:02 PM

    Amazing how the angsty milennial sounds like a beatnik. =)
    Strange how happiness is something to feel pressured by. The unfortunate scarring of a life shaped by the game of “success.” Literally [sic] laughed out loud at number 3.


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