You hear it all the way through high school. You are told you need to think about what you want to do in the future from an early age. When it comes time to apply to colleges, you check off a major that best fits with whatever vision you have of your future self.
Well, I am here to tell you that you will probably change your mind about your career during college. Maybe even more than once. And I promise you, you will survive.
Here are some things that happen when you listen to your gut about shifting gears:
Your relatives ask a lot of questions.
And I mean A LOT of questions. "What happened to your career in journalism?" your aunt Sally asks you. "What will you even do with your new major? Work in a coffee shop for the rest of your life?"
Relatives tend to put you in a box based on the interest you showed in a different career at one point, and they may take your career switch personally.
Just remember that at the end of the day it is your life and your decisions have nothing to do with them. Do not be afraid to pursue your true passions just because of a judgy relative.
You wonder if you were wasting your time.
A major shift in gear from the career you were working toward can seem very daunting. Maybe you have had internships related to your previous aspirations. When you make a major change, your mind may force upon you a belief that everything prior was a waste of your time. Trust me, those experiences were not a waste of time.
Without trying things out and devoting time to understanding different positions, you will never know what you do enjoy doing. Make a list of things you enjoyed and didn't enjoy about your previous major and internship experiences. Use the list to figure out how you want to shape your career moving forward.
You worry that you may change your mind again.
You may change your mind about your major and career path again, and that is completely okay. You may not change your mind again, and that is also completely okay.
At the end of the day, you need to keep reminding yourself what you enjoy about your major and hopefully, the pros will outweigh the cons. If they don't, then do something about it to make the pros outweigh the cons.
You start to think less about your career as a linear path.
If you've ever heard a speaker or guest lecturer talk about their career, usually their stories are not linear paths that led them to where they are in their career. Often, people have many different types of jobs in a multitude of industries.
Every experience will help you realize what you want out of your career and prepare you for your next role in ways that you often cannot see at the moment. Find the silver lining in every opportunity and experience you are a part of.
You take an actual interest in the things you are learning about.
I originally planned for a career in journalism until I realized halfway through my sophomore year of college that I did not picture myself as a journalist any longer. I made a drastic switch to my current major, American Studies. My major now focuses on the history and culture of America, which is one of my main interests.
I wake up excited to go to my new classes because they are on subjects that I actually care about. My interest in the subjects I'm learning about actually helps me focus and improve my grades.
You accept that your career path does not need to be set in stone immediately.
Just enjoy the classes and opportunities that are given to you in your new major, and find out what drives you. There is plenty of time to worry about the future as it inches closer, but if you focus on finding interests that spark your ambition and creativity, your career path will become clearer.
Most majors do not have a clearly defined occupation that correlates perfectly to the curriculum. Your possibilities are endless in any field that you choose to pursue.
You realize that if you can uproot yourself from your comfort zone, you can do anything.
Switching majors is one of the scariest things a college student can do. You are diving head-first into uncharted territory. Push past the fear you feel and keep an open mind about new majors.
Sometimes change is exactly what we need, even when we don't know we need it.