I was once a big fish in a small pond.
And I loved it.
I was comfortable, I was surrounded by people that adored me, and I was able to be my true self around those people that chose to be in my life.
I was cozy. I was top ten of my class, I was a good athlete, and I was involved in a lot.
In other words, things were going very well.
College was different. I became the small fish in a big pond. Especially as a chemical engineering student. Going from a high school class of 300 to a college that was home to over 40,000 people was a big change, to say the least.
What was even more strange was the fact that I was no longer a top-tier student. I was average, or even below that status in the eyes of my peers. And although I was a chemical engineering student, which is often considered to be a highly respectable major, I was nowhere close as knowledgable as the other geniuses that I studied with.
From the moment I stepped into my classes on the first day, I already felt years behind.
The people who I worked on chemistry problems went to private technical high schools that were nothing in comparison to the dinky public high school I attended. It didn't help that there were cliques in my classes that were often based on intelligence.
I had never experienced anything like it.
I felt very intimidated, and in the end, I could not handle the pressure that came with competing in a major that I found I had no desire to be in. I took the classes I was required to do, and I was given a small view of what my future would look like through engineering orientation courses, but I was not energized or as excited as I once had been about my future career.
I used to believe that I was going to change the world. And I felt so certain that I had my future laid out in front of me.
I had dreamt that I would be a leader in my generation. That people other than my family and friends would know my name. And that dream has not necessarily died, but to say the least, I have been struck with a reality check.
I really wanted to be a "STEM girl." I wanted to revolutionize and be different than everyone else, but I just didn't have what it takes to be that. And in some ways, I don't think I ever wanted to be a chemical engineer. I just liked the thought of it.
I would like to say that I didn't give up, but I think to some degree that may be false. Looking back, I know that I could not fulfill the career of my dreams. The emotional calls home, the uncertainty, the exhaustion, and the overwhelming feeling of not being able to comprehend or perfect anything that I was paying $30,000 a year for made me depressed.
I was lost and I knew I could not go on.
I didn't know what I was going to do with my life, and that scared me.
I immediately got out of the major and opted to be undecided for a while. I hoped that I could drift and bide some time taking gen eds that would maybe lead me to an answer.
Around this time, I was offered an opportunity to shadow my cousin who worked in marketing. I was given the opportunity to see what working as a part of the marketing team at a business would be like and I immediately felt at peace. I could envision myself doing something along the lines of what I was able to experience, and this made me happy. I felt content with the fact that I had an idea of what I wanted to do instead of the looming sense of uncertainty I had felt before.
Some of my friends were enrolled in the business school that is at my college, and they informed me that entry as a freshman was simple but very difficult as a sophomore due to the limited slots available. In other words, the competition was high.
In meeting with my counselor, I heard the same thing. What didn't help was the fact that my GPA was lower than it could have been because of the struggle I had with my engineering classes.
I still ended up applying, despite me already assuming that there was a very likely chance I would not be accepted.
After several nerving months, I finally got the business school's decision.
The letter basically said, "it's not you, it's us". I was a great applicant, of course, but there was especially tough competition that semester, and I was considered, but not accepted.
They tried to make up for it by allocating resources that could help me "succeed at any endeavor" I had, but I couldn't help but feel miserable and alone. I felt like no one really wanted me and that the goal that I hoped to succeed at was getting farther out of my reach.
My counselor even asked me if I would still stay here without the opportunity for a business degree.
Him even asking that scared me.
Should I even consider staying?
Eventually, I talked with some other undeclared individuals and found that I am not alone and that many other people struggle to find their calling until much later. I was not behind by any means, and I was likely to still obtain a job in whatever I decided to major in. I felt more relieved, but not by much.
In some ways, I think that this was bound to happen. I was supposed to be humbled by this.
And I always had hoped for education in an environmental major, and now I am blending my business aspirations with environmental-based economics.
Was it meant to be? That's up for debate.
But it is important to note that a lot of people don't know what to study or do with their lives until later. And that is fine. Being true to oneself and responding to instincts is so essential and necessary in finding a passion.
So don't stress if you are like me and are still trying to figure out your purpose. It will come to you eventually, most likely in a surprising way.
In the meantime, keep trying to invigorate your interests, and stay involved in activities you love and that benefit you. And most importantly, college can be a wake-up call in its expansiveness and scariness. Try to appreciate the changes it gives you and how it calls for you to better yourself.
You are worth so much, and denial into programs should not define you.
Only you can define yourself.