Have you ever avoided walking under a ladder? Cringed because you saw a black cat and were unsure if it was going to cross your path? Lamented over the imminent seven years of bad luck you were about to have because you broke a mirror? Let’s be real, we have all bought into superstitions at some point - I know I check my Cosmo horoscope weekly. I’m not sure how much of it I believe, and just as a general disclaimer: I’m not trying to shit on believing in horoscopes or astrology or tarot cards or any of that. It isn’t for everyone, just like some people choose to avoid wearing white after Labor Day (a rule that only has authority if you believe in it). Whether you believe in some larger cosmic force or karma or God or none of the above, I think that we are all looking for something to motivate us and push us towards whatever purpose we do have. And the cool thing is that there are so many ways to figure out what it is you want to do with your life or what you want to be when you grow up. As a classic teenager on the cusp of becoming a twentysomething, I’m pretty clueless. I walk around like I am in the middle of one of those coming-of-age movies, expecting something to jump out and tell me exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing. It’s hard enough to figure out who you are and what you love enough to do for the rest of your life, but even harder when it seems like everyone else has their entire lives mapped out. But a little secret that I just recently found out - almost no one is actually as sure as they seem. I was talking to my dad once, and he said he still had no idea what he wanted to be when he grows up, so I find some comfort in knowing that I don’t need to have all of the answers right now. I just have to make sure that I’m looking for them somewhere.
One of the biggest perks of attending a liberal arts university is that I’m forced to try pretty much every subject you can think of, which feels like the best way to figure out what I tolerate, what I like, and what I absolutely love. There are some people that walk into college knowing that they need to find a career where the extent of their math can be done on a calculator, or know that they will strive to write as little as possible, or must avoid biology at all costs. Even having the littlest inkling of what you like can help you find the right major and career path for you. But there is absolutely no reason to be scared if you start college with no idea how you actually feel about Shakespeare or the Pythagorean theorem. The only things you have to be able to do is keep an open mind and try new things. And keep your eyes peeled for “signs.” Like I said before, I read my horoscope on Cosmo every week, so I’ve been kind of testing to see if what it says will check out. A few weeks ago, my horoscope boasted of some intense life-changing news regarding my career, which I laughed off because of how inconsistent my plans for the future have always been. I started college as a biochemistry major because I’ve always been decently interested in the way scientists go about things. A couple of weeks into the first semester of freshman year, I realized I couldn’t do chemistry for the rest of my life (still true), but that I loved biology too much to give it up (also still true). So I switched my major to just biology. I have become a pro at dodging questions at Thanksgiving and Christmas about what I wanted to do and what my plans are because I had absolutely no idea. I told anyone who asked that I was a bio major, which means yes I can apply for med school, or I can do research, or there are plenty of other options. I took an insanely interesting class in criminal law and considered that as a career for a few weeks. Fast forward about a year, and in the midst of all of the email blasts from the school was one advertising for an information session for the five year Master’s in Education program. Since I had literally nothing to lose, I signed up. In that hour, the Head of the School of Education at Loyola made me realize that all I actually want to do is teach kids to love science as much as I do. On the walk back to my dorm, I texted everyone I knew to let them know that I had a semblance of a direction for my life, an exciting and unfamiliar feeling. I also checked back in on my Cosmo horoscope, and it just so happened that I went to the info session on Wednesday, the same day that I was supposed to receive life-changing news. Whether it was coincidence or not, it really cemented the whole thing for me.
It’s a totally worn out cliché to say that things happen for a reason, but clichés are cliches because they have been tried and tested in so many different situations that it’s hard not to believe them (once you get passed the initial grimace of the words that are typically embroidered on a pillow or found in a greeting card). I really do believe that I saw that email when I did so that I could feel like I’m finding my purpose. And if I’m wrong and this isn’t it, then that’s cool too because I’m only nineteen years old and I have so much time to find whatever it actually is. If you’re still with me, all I’m saying is that it may feel like you’re the only one struggling and that you’ll never know for sure what you want to do, but that you’re definitely not the only one and eventually you’ll have some idea.