It was a very chilly as I trudged back to my dorm one October evening, my breath materializing before me as cold tears rolled gently off my face and dripped onto the frosted sidewalk. Campbell's Biology in Focus and my introduction to chemistry textbook pull my shoulders down to the ground as I question why I thought it would be a good idea to walk all the way home from Raynor at 2 am on a Tuesday, and my tired eyes start to blink rapidly as I text my now-asleep roommate that I was on my way back.
I had been at the library for nearly 6 hours, pouring over countless pages of notes on the cell cycle and respiration, in an attempt to study for a biology exam a week away.
Yes, that's right. I was there for 6 hours, and the test wasn't for another week, but with biology, if I didn't start hitting the books at least a week before the exam, I would never learn everything I needed to know in time for the exam.
It was on my late-night trek back to my dorm that I came to the realization that I hated every minute of it.
I hated the way the pages in the textbook ripped whenever I turned them too fast, and I hated that I had to listen to the same three classical albums over & over again because I couldn't focus if I didn't. I hated that I hadn't done anything else all day except study for biology and that I now had to rush through an essay tomorrow for a class I loved and wish I could spend more time on. I hated that I never understood anything in lecture, and I hated that I always got the clicker questions wrong despite how much I thought about them or how confident I was in my answer. I hated that despite how much I thought I loved learning about the "science of life", I was constantly checking the clock to see when class got out and I dreaded having to do anything that involved me looking at the textbook after class; I hated how boring and pointless I thought discussions were on Fridays.
I hated being a biology major.
Stunned with this realization, I got back to my dorm and broke into tears almost immediately. I was spending $40,000 a year to study something I absolutely despised, to be unhappy and stressed out all the time and unable to enjoy my college experience.
I had a plan, and I was determined to stick to it: get my degree from Marquette, go to graduate school at Northwestern and pursue my own cancer research, and then carry on with it into the rest of my life; I thought I would "change the world" in this way and in this way only.
I only had this plan because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I thought that this was the only way I could give purpose to my existence, to make something out of my time here on Earth and do something that could benefit the wholeness of society.
To hell with happiness and purpose, I thought as I looked at myself in the mirror and wiped my mascara-streaked face with Kleenex. Pull yourself together.
Then it hit me.
I loved to write, stitching together simplistic words and phrases to create the fabric of something complex and beautiful; furthermore, I found that I actually enjoyed writing essays for most of my other classes, using such assignments as study breaks and as ways to de-stress from biology and chemistry. I also loved my intro to philosophy class and was considering a minor in philosophy prior to my 2 a.m. an existential crisis.
So, the next day, I stopped by Sensenbrenner, met with my advisor for all of 30 minutes, and began the process of switching from a Biological Sciences major to a double major Writing-Intensive English and Philosophy.
I decided that this was my life, and if I'm going to be spending the next three or so years of it in school, I should be learning about something I love.
Something that I don't mind waking up at 7:30 in the morning for, and something where I don't end up almost crying in the middle of nearly every exam (wish I was kidding about that).
I am in college to change the world by doing something that I love and that makes me happy. I am here to redefine my own purpose for existing, to figure it out what I'm meant to do without the influence of anyone else. I am not here to prove myself to anyone, or to live up to some lofty goal in a field that breaks me down instead of building me up.
I just finished filling out the paperwork to switch a couple of weeks ago, and it honestly one of the best decisions I have made at Marquette so far. I am about 110% happier now than I was at my happiest point last semester, and January has only just ended.
As of right now, I am not exactly sure what I want to do after I graduate. I am very interested in journalism and media/communications but am also enthralled by the idea of law school and philosophical research. I do not have a set "plan", because this time, I don't see a reason for one. I know that whatever lies in front of me is bright and promising because I know that wherever I end up, I know that I will be happy.