This time last year, I was a freshman in the Engineering Undeclared program at Ohio State. I was struggling to keep up with my peers in my classes and not really enjoying the material. By the end of my second semester here, my GPA was suffering, and so was I. I was exhausted from trying so hard to keep up on homework that I was not interested in for a major that was not making me happy, but I refused to quit because I told myself that I was going to be an engineer. I was committed to getting my degree in engineering with a focus on humanitarian engineering. I was going to help provide appropriate technology to the developing world and to under-served parts of the United States. I repeated this every time I was asked that dreaded question, “what do you want to do with your life?” I had it all planned out; it sounded great and my family was proud of me, yet it never really felt right.
Then, this past summer, I began to change my path. I have always known that I have a passion for people – this was a huge part of why I had decided to go into humanitarian engineering – but I had always thought of this passion as something that I could pursue later in life rather than a career path. It was not until summer orientation while I was working as a Peer Leader that I began to see that working with people was something that I needed to do. To me, being able to make an impact on someone else’s life was the most rewarding feeling I have ever experienced.
By the time school started again in the fall, I had completely changed my schedule. I was going to be a Public Affairs major with a focus on engineering because I was afraid to completely change my track. I was scared to change my direction from something I was so confident in to something that I knew so little about. I knew that engineering was not right for me, but I did not know if Public Affairs was or what I would do with it. I had one foot in the door and one foot out. My family did not help in this way. I was about to take a leap, and their lack of support made it even scarier.
It was not until just last week that I found my way. As a Peer Leader, one of the things that I have been the most adamant about has been mental health. It is one of the things that I care the most about both personally and professionally. I decided to stop ignoring the pull that I have been feel from the topic. I decided to pick up a minor in Clinical Psychology & Individual Differences and focus my career on policy relating to mental health. This change was scary for me, but since making the decision, I could not be more happy.
If this has hit home for you, I would say one thing: be honest with yourself. Only you know what makes you happy. Change can be scary and uncertainty can be even worse, but I believe that challenging ourselves in this way is how we grow as people. I encourage you to reach out to your academic advisor, your Peer Leader, your RA, a friend, a family member, or anyone else that you trust, and talk about it. Sometimes it takes time to understand where your passion is pulling you, but it is is never too late to follow it.