What do you want to be when you grow up?

Having done orientations all summer, I frequently asked incoming students why they chose their specific major.  Although some responses included passions, many people spoke in empty buzzwords.  Even worse, Exploration majors were often ashamed of admitting their decision, or in their minds, indecision.  But what is so shameful about recognizing that college, and your first year specifically, is a time to do exactly that…explore?  I’ve found that regarding choosing a major, students are preoccupied with work: type of work, where to work, who to work for, compensation for work, etc.; the last is most common.  But, I’d like to refer back to the more childlike question we should be asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a doctor.  My classes and extracurriculars reflected this desire.  I didn’t always enjoy what I was doing, but I was sure I wanted to be a doctor…or at least I thought I did.  Truth is, I rather arbitrarily chose ‘doctor’ when I was really young, and adults and peers latched on to the idea because it was “impressive.”  So, I went with it, and not many people questioned the ‘why’ of my decision because they were too fixed on the occupation’s status, and, to be honest, so was I.

By the end of high school, when it was time to apply to college, I was beginning to question my doctor dreams.  However, I was too scared to admit this, to both myself and others, so I quietly picked Public Health as my major and chose Ohio State (THE Ohio State??).  Pretty early on I questioned my motivations for majoring in Public Health.  I quickly realized I didn’t want to be a doctor anymore, now that I had a better understanding of what it meant to be a doctor.  I thought maybe I could salvage the major and do health policy, but this led me to my second realization: I was choosing majors based on occupations that had fixed education paths (i.e. undergrad + med school + residency = doctor).  I needed to get out of this headspace in order to figure out what it was that I wanted to do, or, more importantly, who I wanted to be.

I took the time to explore academically my second semester with a GE in the Geography department (Geography 3701 – Making of the Modern World for those that are curious) because someone I looked up to told me it completely changed the way she saw the world.  I wanted that feeling.  That is what I wanted to get out of college, so I chased that feeling.  I got that and so much more when I changed my major to Geography at the end of second semester.

I know that not everyone desires to be a geographer.  We need doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but we need artists, teachers, and academics, too.  As long as you think of your major like I think of geography, you’re off to a good start.  Don’t think of your major as what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life, but rather how you will be doing it.  Four people could be passionate about environmental justice, for example, but one decides to be an environmental engineer, another an environmental policy analyst, the third a community organizer in an area greatly affected by climate change, and the last an artist whose work changes the way people feel about the environment.  Same cause, different strategies.

It took a lot of time for me to be comfortable with having a major with no set career path, but I don’t want to conceptualize the future in a fixed way.  I want to be, do, study, learn, explore, and create.  My dad always told me, “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  That’s the dream.  That’s my goal.  That’s my future.

2016/2017 Retrospective

Four awesome things and four sucky things from my junior year

Math minor

I officially declared and officially finished my math minor! My math class was hard, and at the beginning of the semester I thought about dropping it, but I pushed through and I made it out with a B, which is a grade that I am extremely proud of!

This was probably one of the biggest highlights of my year just because of the struggles I went through in my math classes previously. I started out as a math major, and after getting a couple Cs in my courses and really struggling to stay motivated, I realized math wasn’t for me. This was hard to come to terms with because I felt that by not completing my math degree, I was failing myself. I had always based my self-worth on my intelligence and math skills, and to suddenly feel like I wasn’t good enough took a toll on my self-esteem. By completing my math minor, I was able to reassure myself that I am intelligent and that I can succeed.


I completed 50 hours of training and started volunteering for the Suicide Hotline in Columbus! This is something I have been trying to do for over a year, but it never worked with my schedule. Finally, I felt comfortable enough in my own mental health and had the ability to fit it into my schedule.

Several years ago I needed a suicide hotline, and now to give back, it feels as if I am helping my 15-year-old self get through those tough times. I see myself in every caller, and it just makes the experience of volunteering that much more meaningful to me.


I was re-elected onto the executive board of Pride OSU and will now serve as the Vice President of this student organization. This student org. has given me so many great friends and a better confidence in who I am.

Freshman me was so nervous about coming out of the closet, and Pride OSU gave me a place to really figure out myself and feel comfortable that it is okay to be gay. Having a space that I didn’t have to pretend made all the difference when I decided to come out to my other friends and my family.

Summer plans

I decided to go to Europe for a month this summer. Bought a plane ticket to Paris for May 4! Having summer plans made getting through this semester just that much easier since I always have something to look forward to.

Relationship issues

I had been in a relationship for over 5 ½ years until just last month. Overall, it was a difference in values that ended our relationship. We had just each changed too much in different directions to make it work anymore. But I think that the timing of it was perfect. I had so many people that were supportive and I have so many things to look forward to. I have always been a very independent person, so I have a lot of things that I did on my own that gave me a sense of self-worth. Break-ups are almost a universal reality, but they don’t have to be all that bad. In some ways, this was a sucky thing, but it also was an awesome thing, too.

Money issues

Okay I will totally own up to the fact that I am bringing my own money issues onto myself. I mean, I am taking a month-long vacation to Europe. Mainly, this has been a challenge for me because it is the first big purchase that I have had to budget for. Budgeting is hard. I also have to think about what my finances are going to look like for my senior year of college and then what that means for my post-grad education and career. It feels like the rest of my life is right in front of me. And that’s scary.

Self care

With depression, suddenly even the littlest things like showering and doing laundry become arduous tasks. One missed class becomes two, which becomes three, and suddenly the grades are dropping. Self-care is hard to keep up on, but it is so important. I’ve learned that the best self-care is preventative: setting up things in advance to make sure any breakdown is a minor one.

Just school in general

We can all agree that school is difficult. And sometimes life gets in the way, whether it’s a family emergency, a really bad case of the sniffles, or several professors conspiring to make all your assignments due the same exact day (ya feel?). From my experience, junior year has the most difficult classes and is the last year that grad schools will see grades from, so the pressure to do your best is the highest.