I’m all for setting goals and making long-term plans for myself. But my academic career kicked off when I started to break the promises I’d made to myself.
-Promise number one: I will decide on a major before entering college and never change it.
After a lot of indecision and self-induced pressure to pick a major in high school, I settled for English education. I reached that decision because I knew that I liked editing and talking about books, and I figured it was a pretty good bet since an inordinate number of my relatives are teachers.
After taking two semesters of education classes, it was time to officially apply to the department. The application included a 12-page essay about why I wanted to be a teacher, how I would motivate students and a number of ethical topics. As I began to write I realized I was lying to myself. I didn’t have the patience, the energy or drive to do anything I was writing about.
Thus began my quarter-life crisis. I knew I couldn’t let go of my English degree but worried about its stigma as an impractical field. Salvation came in the form of a panel of English major alumni. As they talked about their careers, I realized that almost all of them had my dream jobs–some combination of reading, writing and editing–which I never knew had existed. And almost all of them had tacked a mass communications degree on with their English major.
I dropped my education major and added mass communications a few days later.
-Promise number two: I will not join the mass communications department.
In the midst of those education classes freshman year, I also took an introduction to media course because all along I was vaguely interested in the idea of writing for media. The professor and I, to put it nicely, just did not get along. He quizzed over information that was not in the book or lectures, constantly rambled about unrelated topics and graded according to some mystery system which no one in the class could figure out. He was one of those professors.
I knew that I never wanted to risk having this professor again and had concluded from his dull lectures that the field was unworthy of my time. After an episode of particularly unfair grading of the final exams, I declared to all my friends that I would never under any circumstances join the mass communications department.
Breaking promise number one led me to breaking promise number two. I’ve since abandoned the field I pretended so adamantly to be passionate about and joined one I once claimed to hate. Now, I’m not only in the mass communications department, but taking on one of the biggest and most time-consuming leadership roles it offers.
Oops. Too bad I love it.