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The Advice I Wish I Had When I Changed My Major

Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.

-Albert Einstein

Growing up, I was always praised by the adults and teachers around me whenever I created a piece of art. If I wrote something, "you are going to be an author!" If I drew something, "you are going to be an artist!"

But when it came time to declare my major, the pressure to pick security over the unknown won an internal battle, which lead me to declare myself a "health studies" student.

And just like that, those who once praised me for creating art were now praising me for making the "smart" decision of obtaining a career in the health field. "You'll always have a job!" "You'll never need to worry about making money!"

And at that time, not even I had the common sense or courage to tell myself the truth: I was never good at math. I was never good at any kind of science. more importantly, I severely hated these two subjects. So what was I doing sitting in all of these related classes for a whole year? I was failing, feeling lost, and feeling extremely stupid.

Luckily, when I was avoiding homework about ATP and the mitochondria or whatever, I had social media and writing as outlets to get my creative fix. I wrote for the Odyssey for a little and was also serving as my sorority's Communication Chair; I managed our social media platforms and curated public relation events. I was elected this position as a new member and ran against several upperclassmen--and won. I was good at this and it made my creative mind feel important and praised like it was when I was younger.

So, somewhere between getting a D- in biology and avoiding taking chemistry, I began to wonder what the rest of college would be like for me. At this rate, I already wouldn't get into an occupational therapy program. No amount of tutoring could save me. Where do I go from here?

I began to ask everyone and anyone I could talk to what their major in hopes they could sell me on it. I considered social work, education...but neither of those felt "me" enough.

Feeling defeated, I went to my advisor to set up my schedule for the following semester. She pulled up my grades and tried to keep her composure as she asked, "Do you have a tutor? There's plenty for health studies students..." I responded with a head nod and an eye roll. "I'm not good at science or math," I vented. "I don't know why I chose this. I was excited because I thought I was going to switch to marketing, but of course it's all numbers and math."

And that's when she told me about majoring in communication; it was music to my ears. Writing, social media, press, opportunities to work in the city, no math or molecules... sign. me. up.

And ever since my very first "intro to communication" class, I've never felt so smart and so confident in myself or a decision. I was no longer a fish being judged on my ability to climb a tree, I was finally in the ocean where I belonged.

...which was short lived, because the number one question strangers ask young people are, "what are you going to school for?"

I'll never forget the confused look on this man's face when I told him "communication" --or when another person responded, "oh good, more corrupt journalists." They'll never remember me, but I'll never forget they way they made me feel. Although that was 4 years ago, I still get comments like that, except I don't let it get to me anymore.

It's hard to believe that jobs that exist right now (e.g. social media managers, content creators, etc. ) were just being born when I declared my major in communication. Uber didn't even exist then--and now, I am so grateful I followed my heart instead of security because in doing so, I was able to find security in myself from finally feeling smart after a year of feeling like an idiot.


At 18 years old, we think we know what we want, but looking back on it, I had no clue what I wanted or who I was becoming yet. Being asked "what do you want to do with the rest of your life?" with the clock ticking is insane pressure for even people in their 30s or 40s. Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid. If I had to go back and do it all again, I would've analyzed my talents and passions sooner to get to where I wanted to be sooner, only because I loved my classes so much and missing out on it for a year and a half is upsetting.

At the end of the day, we all need to follow our heart, even if you have to back track from where your head was leading. Go where you can let your inner genius out. If you aren't there right now, then what are you doing?

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