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Major revelation

Marisa Iati | Thursday, November 17, 2011

I spent my entire freshman year at Notre Dame waiting for a revelation.

This revelation, I hoped, would tell me exactly what my major should be, what courses I should take, whether I should study abroad, and would, as an added bonus, completely map out my future.

I had no such revelation.

Instead, I flip-flopped, zigzagged and bounced between intended majors, considering the Program of Liberal Studies, economics and sociology. I began my sophomore year in the Mendoza College of Business, thinking, somewhat naïvely, that I could combine my interests in economics and sociology into a major in marketing.

It only took five weeks after the semester began for me to realize that I was in the wrong college. I found some of my classes interesting and enjoyed accounting, much to my shock, but something wasn’t quite right. I struggled to find meaning in my business classes. I missed the liberal arts, trying to read way more than I could realistically finish in the allotted time, and even the stress of writing 10 to 15 page papers about topics I didn’t fully understand. A few weeks later, I left the College of Business, and I’ll begin a major in American Studies next semester.

By making this switch, I abandoned the safer path. A major in business would make my job search significantly easier and my career options plentiful. A major in American Studies will leave me with a deep understanding of national identity and the potential for service or graduate school.

Still, I have no regrets. The College of Business is a positive choice for many people, but it simply wasn’t right for me. I’ve realized that all too often, we’re afraid of staying true to our interests and passions because we think these choices might set us back in some way. We have an idea of where we want to be in five or 10 or 20 years, and we tailor all of our decisions to that end goal. But when we fail to deviate from the beaten path, what do we give up?

When I told my Great Depression-era grandfather that I had abandoned my practical business major to study a liberal arts discipline that he had never heard of, I expected him to tell me I had made a foolish decision. Instead, he responded in a way that surprised me.

“I guess you’re still young enough that you can make choices based on what you truly want instead of thinking only about what’s most practical,” he said.

So, that’s the line I’m going with for now. By choosing to major in American Studies, if nothing else, I’m being true to who I am and what I want. Where’s the mistake in that?

It may be cliché, but it bears repeating: We’re still young enough to follow our hearts.

Contact Marisa Iati at [email protected]

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.