On a sunken cushion in the University Health Professions Office, I shifted with clammy hands, clonking knees and wandering eyes that scoured the room for a way out. Nurses make good money, I reassured myself. It’s time to pick a major. But, I didn’t want to be a nurse; I had no idea what I wanted. I remember the hard days, but now as a senior English major, I look back and smile. A lot of freshmen don’t know what they want yet, and I reveal to them the secret to choosing the right major: think with your heart.

You must know what you really want. You don’t invent your dream life overnight, but you must think about it to live it. I used to sit in the shade, bullet-point my wants (educational, financial, material, everything) in a journal several times a week and look for patterns amid my entries. I was honest and reactive. The exercise never spelled out a specific major for me, but I soon realized that choosing the right major isn’t logical. Most people who love what they do attest to an unexplainable gut feeling or internal drive that brings them to their line of work. We rationalize options, but we ought to let intuition drive us—that’s thought processing with the heart. Eventually, I knew I wanted to major in English but didn’t change my major: I was scared.

You must summon the courage to pursue what you want. During my self-reflection, I diagnosed “money” and “security” as top priorities on my list. These motivated me out of fear, and it’s true that many people would rather passively remain in an unloved major than face change with all its turbulence and risks; however, we aren’t meant to live by fear. I believe successful people are those propelled out of bed every morning by their own inquiry, fascination and zeal. When I was a freshman, I hadn’t figured that out. Now I consider myself successful not because of money, but because I do what I love – have courage!

I’m typically calm, but I panicked in that office. I murmured some excuse to the secretary and fled to the bathroom to pull myself together. It seemed irrational to walk away from an auspicious, high-paying career choice but I was heading into the wrong major and knew it. I’ve witnessed several waves of freshmen and spied on the meditative faces of students considering their options. If you loathe your current major, it’s not the right one for you; find something you like. Those who determine what they want and have the courage to pursue it will create their own success. From a content upperclassman to my new peers: think with your heart! 

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