Audrey Bowers is a junior creative writing major and writes "Adult-ish" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I used to be convinced that I would graduate and then become an English Language Arts teacher. Two years ago, I stood in front of a dozen or so 12 year olds, alongside my teaching partner at Fishers Junior High. We were tasked with creating and teaching a 30-minute mini-lesson, which was absolutely daunting.
Even though I had my doubts as I roamed that school, I convinced myself into staying in the program because I felt called to teaching. Even though I felt committed to making a difference in the lives of children, I couldn’t shake the idea of becoming a writer out of my mind. It was just who I was.
Now, two years after teaching for the first time and a few days after teaching for the last time, I find myself in disbelief. This morning I looked at my DegreeWorks and saw Bachelor of Arts in creative writing instead of Bachelor of Science in English education (with a minor in creative writing).
Becoming a creative writing major was something that I deemed impossible because I was very adamant about graduating on time. I made it this far into the program (three years) after all, with a pretty good GPA and wonderful experiences working with kids. I was meant to teach, right?
The answer was not yes or no, it was somewhere in between, a grey area of uncertainty, a maybe, if you will.
My hesitance to switch my major was out of fear. I feared not being able to find a job. I feared failing the kids that I felt indebted to. I feared that my writing would take me absolutely nowhere and that it would be a worthless endeavor. If I would’ve known that switching my major wouldn’t ruin my life, I probably would’ve done so much earlier.
Throughout my career, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t switch majors, ranging from how far along I was in the program, to simply not wanting to let anyone down. I became convinced that happiness didn’t matter to me as much as being useful and serving other people. I also became convinced that I didn’t actually have the ability to feel happy due to the depression that weighed down heavily on me.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. What I didn’t realize was that I could change lives and be happy at the same time.
Changing my major is a bittersweet thing, because I was letting go of what I thought I should want in order to pursue what I actually wanted, but failed to admit the truth. I’ve spent the last few years grappling with who I want to be and who I should be and who I could be that I forgot who I actually am. Creative writing was the best choice because I felt like I could be myself for once, rather than dressing up and playing teacher.
People told me time and time again that being undecided or switching majors or not having it figured out was okay, but none of that ever felt true for me or really sunk in. I burdened myself with some sort of lethal perfectionism and a “fake it til you make it” attitude. Even though I had spent most of my life saying “I don’t want to teach,” I spent the last two years convincing myself that I wanted to because I didn’t want to admit that I made a mistake.
College is about making choices. A few weeks ago, I realized that I actually had a choice when I sat in the office of one of my professors, trying to figure out what the hell I should do with my life. In that moment, I realized there was no “should”, but rather there was a “would.” What would I do?
I felt empowered as I realized that I had control over my life. I also felt scared because I knew that I didn’t want to teach eighth graders anymore.
I think that we all have this power, regardless of our financial aid statuses or the opinions of our parents. We all have the power, to a certain extent, to make choices that we can be proud of and to live meaningful and fulfilled lives.
The only thing is whether we will choose to pursue those lives and to be willing to admit that we messed up and are afraid as a result. Sometimes it takes changing your major. Other times, it’s not doing something that we thought we should simply because we didn’t want to.
It may seem trivial and cliché, but this life is our own and it is up to us to decide how we ought to live it.