An 18-year-old’s (small) identity crisis


Photo credit: Ren Rader

Illustration by Ren Rader

As an indecisive person, I have been unsure about a lot of things in college. A lot of the time, I’m unsure about the little things like what I should have for lunch, or what color shirt I should wear, or if I should do my laundry on Saturday or on Sunday. These small dilemmas often times result in me calling my mom throughout the day to ask for her opinion — I usually just go with whatever she recommends. My mom always knows what to say, and she has my best interest at heart. There is still one problem, however, that my mom can’t help me with over the phone: my identity in college.

I know that the transition from high school to college is usually when people try to wipe their slates clean and start over. They develop new habits and interests. Some people even try to change themselves completely and go on to alter their entire personalities. However, I didn’t do any of these things coming into college.

I stepped onto campus in August with the same personality and interests I had developed in high school. Even now, I still read and do research for fun, and I journal and write poems too.

Given my interests, I decided my next step was to study English in college. I registered for a couple of English classes and even chose HUMA as my FYE. Back in August, I looked forward to the learning that awaited me, but not long after, I was drowning in deadlines, papers and dense books to read.

It’s just the way of college I suppose, but the amount I stress I carried around did not allow me to enjoy the majority of the papers I was writing or books I was reading. Now that the end of the semester is fast approaching, I am left feeling tired and stuck.

I’m stuck because I came into college adamant that I wanted to be an English major, but the mix of emotions I experienced this semester did not allow me to enjoy my English classes the way I imagined I would. After all the papers I wrote and the books I read, I realized how too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I couldn’t enjoy doing the things I love because I was too busy feeling tired. But, I have loved English for so long that I feel tethered to the subject — it’s part of my identity. If I don’t end up an English major, what will I do?

I’ve definitely called my mom to ask her that very question, but she told me only I knew the answer to that. I also talked to a few upperclassmen and professors about this, and they all gave me similar answers. The majority of the people I asked told me to explore my options and try to fulfill Pathways instead of focusing on majors. As weary as I am about it, I was told numerous times that Pathways is more flexible than I think and that I must trust that things will work out in time.

After all the advice I’ve gathered over the past few weeks regarding potential majors and interests, I think my mom’s advice surpasses all the rest: think long and hard, but follow your heart.

Maybe I don’t have things figured out yet, but maybe I don’t need to. I’m 18 years old, so I have all the time in the world to figure myself out. Leading with my heart is something I’m pretty good at, too, and while that may mean I am indecisive and emotional most of the time, I have a heart tattooed to my left wrist to remind me that no matter what, leading with your heart is not a bad thing. At the end of the day, we don’t need to have things all mapped out, just have a little hope and faith that things will be okay. In the meantime, do what makes your heart happy, even if that means you don’t end up majoring in English.