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On being undecided (still)

| Thursday, April 26, 2018

I came to school last fall as an undecided major. As a freshman in my first semester of college, I found it easy to deflect the ever-present “What’s your major?” question with a laugh and a quick change of subject. Everyone always told me I’d have time to figure it out and I always agreed. But I didn’t actually think that nine months later, I would still be deflecting that question.

And yet here I am, three weeks from the end of my freshman year at Notre Dame, and I still have no idea what I’m doing. That realization shouldn’t entice as much dread as it does. I’m nineteen years old — how should I know what I want to spend the rest of my life doing? But the fact of the matter is that it’s really hard to do anything when you don’t know what you’re doing. While I don’t have to decide my career or declare a major tomorrow, I do have to register for classes. Whatever career I ultimately have will likely be influenced by whatever major I choose, and whatever major I choose will be influenced by what classes I register for. While this may sound like an infinite regression into insanity, I don’t think it’s entirely misguided.

As much as I would like to scream at the next person who tells me “Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out,” I have to believe that they’re not entirely misguided either. At the end of the day, I know that I will graduate, I will have a job and it won’t matter how messy the road I took to get there was. Eventually it will be figured out, even if I never sit down to consciously figure it out. Releasing control of your own life is one of the hardest things to do, but realizing that it is impossible to decisively plan your future is one of the most important. Embracing ambiguity is scary because it’s essentially the same thing as embracing insecurity. It can be embarrassing to say “I have no idea what I’m doing” to your friend who is planning on being a doctor, or your roommate who knows exactly what business field she wants to enter. But if you look at yourself primarily as an employee, you strip yourself of the humanity that makes education worthwhile.

Life is going to unfold however it may unfold, regardless of the anxiety or insecurity you bring with it. Instead of dreading uncertainty, I am trying to understand that ambiguity is not necessarily detrimental. While it is important to actively take steps to figure out your life, it’s perhaps more important to come to terms with the fact that no one can simply “figure out their life.”

We’re all a little bit undecided.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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