Although I am an extremely indecisive person, one of the easiest decisions I have ever had to make was choosing my major: biology. Ever since the third grade when I took my first life science class, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. Everything from the functions of the eukaryotic cell to genetic mutations completely fascinated me. I always wanted to learn more. I dreamed of one day doing research, of discovering more about the inner workings of the human body and contributing to advancements in medicine, healthcare or technology. The possibilities were endless.
But as I progressed through my college career, I started to realize that my passion for the subject was not enough. I had always struggled with math and now as a science major that was really starting to catch up to me. Hours upon hours of studying in the library did not prepare me for my exams, with questions considerably more complex than any homework problems. It was like riding a stationary bike: no matter how much I pedaled or how hard I pushed, I always stayed in the same place, with grades that did not reflect the amount of work I put in.
Nevertheless, I stubbornly kept moving forward, determined to make my dreams a reality no matter how hard it was. But now in the fall semester of my junior year, I have reached my breaking point. Midway through the semester, I was barely passing two out of my three classes, and the third I was taking for a second time.
It got to the point where I realized I would not be able to graduate on time in this major, if at all. Tutoring and office hours weren’t much help; sometimes I didn’t even understand what I didn’t understand until it was too late. No matter how many different studying techniques I tried or hours I spent studying, I still wasn’t comprehending the material the way I needed to. In the highly competitive world of future scientists and doctors, getting anything less than an A was often unacceptable. For me, it no longer seemed possible.
Finally, after getting yet another poor grade in one of my classes, I made the difficult decision to switch my major to English. Writing has always come easily to me, and although it wasn’t nearly as exciting as doing research, it was something I enjoyed and was good at.
When I told my genetics professor this, she noted the huge smile on my face. And yes, in that moment, I was relieved, I was happy. I no longer had to constantly struggle and suffer with little to show for it; for the first time since I entered college, success actually seemed within my reach. But after dropping two of my classes and starting to truly process my decision, reality began to set in. I thought about everything I was losing, and everything I would have to give up.
It was heartbreaking. It was devastating. It was embarrassing. But over time, I began to realize it was necessary.
I would no longer have to torture myself studying for an average grade; the work that I would do, the time that I would put in would (hopefully) be reflected in a positive way. Instead of spending hours mulling over organic chemistry problems, I would spend that time reading books and crafting essays. And as my genetics professor pointed out, I could get a minor in biology and pursue a career in scientific journalism – a combination of both of my passions.
Still, every now and then, I feel the slightest pang in my chest when I hear one of my bio major friends excitedly talk about the classes she plans on taking or the research she is doing. This incessant longing and mild jealousy may never fully go away.
But on my worst days, I remember one of my professors emailing me just to tell me that I was a talented writer; I think of the praise I got for my pieces in my creative writing class. I consider the chances I will have to hone and shape my skill and the newfound career opportunities available to me, in an area in which I am much more confident. Deep down, I know I have made the right decision, no matter how painful it is to accept. And I know I will be okay.
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