It's not a surprise that choosing what you want to do for the rest of your life isn't easy- at least for most people. Some people just know what they want to do from childhood dreams, and others just choose something that they're good at and stick with it. A good group of people (and I personally believe they're pretty smart) choose to go into college undeclared or go to a community college to figure out exactly where their passion lies; then there are the individuals who choose a major and stick with it until the very end (and this is a very lucky bunch). No matter the choice made, it is a tough one that defines how your future begins for yourself.
Out of these four groups I identified, I found myself striving to be the fourth one- to choose something I am passionate about and stick with it until the very end. The thought of choosing something unappealing to me just so I could make more money in the future, or to even choose something I am good at but never really loved, was something that I would never make myself do, and so I didn't. But what I believed worse than making that sort of decision was to choose something I loved to only realize I wanted to switch for something better down the line, ultimately screwing up my path to graduation (and my bank account).
In my junior year of high school, I realized I wanted to pursue communications in college. I have always wanted to work in the entertainment industry and it was a subject that excited me. Film was becoming something special to me, and my spare time was filled with watching celebrity interviews and going on social media to discover the latest pop culture news. I was finally starting to garner a vision for what I wanted my future career to look like, even if I didn't exactly find a specific job title that I was aiming for yet.
On the other hand, music is my other passion. I have sung in various choirs since middle school, was involved with my high school's musical all four years, participated in talent shows and even started my own Youtube channel. Music is something that I literally cannot live without, but I never saw it as my main career path. If I could have any career in the world, I would choose to be a performer; but, of course, this is probably one of the hardest jobs to achieve (and maintain) in the world. The only real job you can get with music is either becoming a teacher (in which I hated the idea of sitting in a classroom all my life) or becoming a music therapist. After thinking about it briefly (or maybe, not even at all), I decided to ignore my musical talents and just stick with the communications studies in college.
I started college off with just focusing on my studies and not joining a choir, which I later discovered was a horrible idea and found myself crying out-of-the-blue numerous times. I was feeling like I was getting nowhere with music, and most of all missed it. And so, I joined the choir for the following semester and focused on re-vamping my Youtube channel in the new year.
As the second semester started, however, I began to wonder if music was an opportunity that I was passing up; I was good at it and I loved it, so why wasn't I doing that instead? As I thought about this for weeks on end, I realized it affected my daily mood and interactions with my family and friends. This was when I decided I had to research music majors in my school so I could finally put this worry out of my mind, and maybe choose a path I needed to take all along.
Once I decided I would research, I dived right into the process: I emailed and talked to so many music professors at my school, went back to my high school to talk to my music teachers, Youtube searched what a music therapist exactly does, and looked at the required classes for music education majors and music therapist majors. All of this research took up forty days and a lot of sighing, but I never once cried. Well, I didn't cry until I had to make a decision.
I always knew that music majors never had it easy (as some people think they do), but it wasn't until I talked to the music professors and looked at the fine print that I realized just how many classes they have to take per semester and how long they are in school for. At my school, it takes five years to complete a B.A. in music education and music therapy with an internship; this would mean I would be in college for six years total if I chose to switch. So, of course, my decision of switching majors would have to be a final one that I would be committed to until the very end.
I gave myself until the end of spring break to make my final decision, which would be March 11, before schedules had to be made for next semester. It would also give me enough time to prepare for an audition if I did choose to switch. As the date approached more quickly, I told myself I would give myself the week off to really do my last-minute research so I could make the best decision I could for myself.
But to my surprise, the universe had other plans.
The Sunday before spring break was literally the luckiest day I ever had in my life. I was able to get cheap tickets for me and my best friend to see one of our favorite actors in an off-broadway show and I was able to get tickets for a taping of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" that I randomly applied for the month prior. I had a week of adventures to look forward to that I could distract myself with before I had to make my big decision.
After attending these two unbelievably amazing events, I sat myself down and was immediately overwhelmed by thoughts of this big decision. I made a list of things to do and research to prepare myself to make a choice over the upcoming break, but it just made me even sadder. In a rush, I went downstairs to talk to my parents and just started crying to them about how hard this decision was, even though I was fully aware that there are countless other decisions in the world that are harder than this one. I word-vomited everything I was feeling to them, and in turn, they gave me their opinions and advice... to go with my gut and to do what I love... that actually made me realize what my heart really wanted all along.
After weeks of contemplating, researching and stressing, I ultimately realized that I was scared I was giving up on music because it wasn't my major subject of study in school. What made this decision so hard was that I still absolutely loved my current major and I was just trying to find an excuse to hate it so it would make my decision easier. Those two events I attended last week really put into perspective that this is something I cannot give up because then I would be wondering about where'd I be and what I would have achieved if I didn't stick with it.
I finally decided that I was right where I needed to be all along, and that music would always be there with me. Communications and media is something that I can pursue while I'm young, while music is something I can do even when I'm older and retired. In the meantime, I'm sticking to my dreams now and minoring in musical theater so music is still a part of my studies. After I graduate and get my degree, I plan on even taking a year to see where the singing (and maybe acting) thing takes me. Down the line, if I really want to, I can always teach music or get my degree in it. This is a flexible plan, which is something I never was a big fan of, but it's a plan nonetheless.
I decided to write about my crazy experience because I thought it would help, and maybe even reassure, students out there who are experiencing the same worries and fears. Whether you have no idea what you want to do yet, or you're scared you don't like your major anymore, or if you're in between like I am.
People say that college is a time to grow and find out who you really are, and this experience has really proved that to me. It's okay to be worried about your future and to not know what you really want yet. I'm still terrified by my future, but now in the most amazing way possible.
If you feel stuck like I did, I can tell you it's not the end of the world and it's all going to be okay. Do your research, even if you're just interested in another major. Talk to professors, your friends, your parents... they're the ones who are going to help you the most. Go with your gut, because it's a pretty powerful tool.
In the meantime, the universe will be doing it's thing to get you where you need to be. You may even go through this process more than once, but I promise you, it will all be worth it in the end.