The Career Related Struggles of an Indecisive 19 Year Old
I started university, not unlike many of my classmates, right after graduating high school at the wee age of 17. Two years later, I’m going through a winding turmoil of indecision, wanting to switch both program and school completely. I’m hardly alone in this, too. Many of my friends and acquaintances are transferring in order to pursue other interests and explore broader options. With the infinite number of careers out there, a vast majority of them unknown to us, it’s a difficult decision to make. The thing is, a good portion of students have no idea what they want to do so early on in their lives. Real life experiences that define who you are and what you hope to do for the rest of your life hardly happen before the age of 17, which is when we’re expected to apply for post-secondary education. Right now, I’m about to switch into a completely new program, pursuing an interest that resulted from experiences during my first year of university- I wouldn’t have had that two years ago.
The thing is, leaving a program brings a lot of not-so-positive consequences before the rewarding result. Not only is it terrifying to desert a place you’ve become so comfortably acquainted with for uncharted territory, but depending on how far detached your new realm of interest is, a new program could come at an incredibly high cost. Finishing two years of a program and switching over to something that may only allow you to transfer a couple of credits can mean over $12,000 spent paying the wrong tuition and hundreds of dollars wasted on textbooks you’ll never look at again. Even just applying for school cost me an extra $200+, and it’s not guaranteed I’ll be accepted into the program. Indecision comes at a high price- but what else are we expected to do? Maybe I’ll suffer from the ailment of student debt forever, but at least I’ll be doing what I love.
As if the money-grabbing fever of school tuition costs wasn’t enough, sometimes parents and peers aren’t the most supportive in this situation either. When I first talked to my parents about switching programs, they looked at me as if I didn’t know what I was saying. Yes, maybe there’s more money in an arts degree than in a fine arts one (although not by much!), but that’s besides the point. Gaining the approval of your parents in a situation like this one isn’t easy, especially if they think that you’ll just keep changing your mind and bouncing from one school to another to another- infinitely indecisive. Luckily, after weeks of explaining my reasoning, they softened up and realized that supporting me through this was one of the most important things they could do.
The business of life is tricky. New experiences open us up to new realizations, moments of enlightenment in which we can finally say, “hey, this is the right thing for me” or “I want to do this forever.” Sometimes that happens after graduating high school, sometimes it happens halfway-through a program. Sometimes, it even happens in your 30s, your 40s. What I mean to say is, it’s never too late to switch from one discipline to another. Maybe taking some time off in between is a blessing, exploring the world or even just your mind for a few months before deciding on a career should be almost mandatory. If you have any doubts about the program you’re currently enrolled in, maybe it’s not the right one for you. If you sometimes stay awake at night thinking of designing and writing, or reading up on the French Revolution and curatorial techniques, or working on math equations for fun, or experimenting with acids and basics and minerals and colours and paints, or wondering what it would be like to work for NASA, but are doing something completely different at school, maybe you should consider transferring into something that appeals more to your senses. Life is too damn short to spend it doing something that feels like a chore, day in and day out, regardless of how much it will cost you to switch or how unenthused your friends and family may react at your decisions. The right career is one that encompasses who you are and throws it back at the world in the form of something tangible. It takes a lot from your body, your mind and your heart, so you better be in love with it.