Being Happy

I haven’t always been one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to do when they “grew up.” At least, I have changed my mind a handful (or two) of times. There is now a month before my senior year starts, and I’m wondering if I’ve done enough.

It perplexes me that we are supposed to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives at such a young age. There’s totally a stigma about changing majors or career paths, but I wish there wasn’t. It’s so bad sometimes that it keeps people from switching. Even the slightest change in the plan can set someone into a panic.

I remember early on in life (and for a pretty long time throughout) wanting to be a teacher. Then, at some point along the way, I decided I wanted to be a college professor and not teach anyone younger. Despite the fact that I had never witnessed a professor in action, I was nearly positive this was what I wanted.

Sitting at the now-gone family desktop computer, I filled out the UIC application. That was one thing I was sure about-I only wanted to go to UIC and was absolutely dead set on it. So much so that it took me months after filling out the application to begin freaking out and wondering what would happen if I wasn’t accepted. Eventually, I filled out a second college application, this one to Bradley…after I had a moment of panic in the high school counselor’s office asking whether or not they thought I would get in to UIC.

At any rate, on the application, I looked through the majors and colleges that were available. I distinctly remember calling my mom and sister in and talking about what I would study. It’s crazy to think that that moment defined so much in my life. We talked about it all, and the next thing I knew, I was applying for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as an English major.

Freshman year, I analyzed my teachers’ every moves, considering their teaching style and telling myself whether or not they enjoyed their jobs. I considered classes an opportunity to witness firsthand what it truly means to be a college professor. Some days I wondered what else was out there for me. It took me until sophomore year to decide that being a professor wasn’t my ultimate goal.

Honestly, I have no idea where the concept of getting into public relations came from (especially since UIC doesn’t have a specific PR track or major), but suddenly I was diving into this area head first. From this point on, I hardly considered becoming a teacher. I was also really set on avoiding any additional educational requirements outside of the many needed for a bachelor’s degree.

I can’t believe how things have changed. Never in a million years would I have thought that my horizons would be expanding so much. Others may not see it this way….that is truly the plight of the English major. People still constantly ask my major and then proceed to ask what I want to teach. The degree certainly doesn’t limit one to teaching. In fact, my time in public relations has helped me realize that is exactly what I want to do, and I become more interested in the business side of it all each and every day.

I have picked up two minors since starting college-Managerial Studies & Communication. I hope the three specialties (and my experience!) help me secure an entry-level position while I (can’t believe it…) get things sorted out for graduate school. I now 100% realize that I need to go to school and constantly improve myself. I never would have imagined myself ready to enter my senior year of college with two minors nearly completed, multiple internships under my belt, graduate schools in mind, and a clear concept of what I want to do come May 2015 (well, actually now, but that isn’t allowed).

If you know what you want to do the moment you apply for college and always have, that’s great. If you’re 60 years old and still saying that you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up (my mom’s frequent statement), that’s fine, too. To some people, a career and getting the perfect job is everything. To others, like me, it isn’t nearly everything.

Ask me what I want to be when I’m older, and I’ll most likely give the cheesy answer of “happy.” Yes, I am very determined to make the right career choices and have the right amount of schooling to have a great job that I’ll enjoy, but that’s just a part of it. I want to be happy with the rest of my life as well, and that can be so much more important sometimes.

I never threw the thought of becoming a professor away, by the way. I’m not discrediting anyone’s majors or career goals or anything for that matter. In fact, if I could just do every job ever for a week or so at a time, I’d be great. But since that isn’t exactly an option, I’d like to get a job, potentially be a professor at the same time, oh, and not to mention, write books or something interesting.

So there it is. Who cares if you want to change majors or colleges or career paths? As long as you’re making your choice for the right reasons, it doesn’t matter what you do. Make choices that will make you happy both now and in the long run. Because that’s what I’d assume we all want to be.

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