By Amber Gabrielle
My head snapped back into place as I shifted in my seat, forcing myself to concentrate. This was the second time today that I had drifted off, and if I wanted to get a proper recommendation letter from this professor, I had to get it together, and fast. I couldn’t blame my drooping eyes on my dry contact lenses anymore!
Imagine getting to your final year of undergraduate coursework, just to know for a fact that you chose the wrong major. I’m shuddering just thinking about it, and yet, this is my story. I came into college an eager 18-year-old, and because of my strong passion for foreign languages and cultures, I declared my major in global affairs. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was absolutely ecstatic to finally dive into my coursework; it took me time to realize that I probably should have waited to declare.
As a kid, I loved learning about diseases and conditions that affect human health. I took college level science courses in high school, but hastily concluded that I couldn’t be a doctor. Three years later, I was waist-deep in advanced classes for a major where the other students were a hundred times more passionate than I was, and it was obvious. I decided to do something about it.
After completing an internship with a national public health agency in Washington, DC, I was certain that I wanted to significantly change my field of study and my career. I was switching from humanities-heavy global affairs, to a more technical field, epidemiology, and um, I was pretty much scared out of my mind. None of my friends in my program understood what the heck I was doing, and frankly, neither did I. I literally had no friends or contacts in epidemiology, and I was convinced no one would take me seriously, an ex-wannabe diplomat who now wanted to be an epidemiologist. We are expected to have our entire lives planned out by 18, and here I was changing my entire trajectory. Like, girl, pick one. The coursework would be a lot more intense than what I had been exposed to in my current major. Would I remember any of the science I knew in high school? Probably not. Who the heck was going to hire me with such a pivot in my studies? Despite my nagging fears, worries, and questions I could not answer, I figured anything was better at this point than falling asleep in my current classes as two overzealous future diplomats argued back and forth about cultural relativism.
It’s honestly amazing how many doors have opened for me since making the frightening decision to change my mind. I quickly finished my undergraduate degree, applied to a program at a high-ranking school for epidemiology, and was accepted. A little over two years later, I have a Masters in a field that I absolutely love, a job in my career field, a blog focused on health and wellness for millennial women, and countless opportunities on the horizon. Is it difficult? Um, yes. Worth it? Girl…
Fearless to me is having the audacity to change your mind, regardless of how deep into something you are, or how much time and energy you have exerted. I don’t care if you’re 23, or 68. You can be involved with anything, whether it be school, a relationship, or a gig, but if it isn’t working for you, you’ll feel it, and this information will sound off in your head like a clanging symbol until you choose to make that change. Please know that it is your right, your DUTY, to change your mind, even if the process is uncomfortable, even if you have no freakin’ idea what your next step is. It all comes together. Oh, and If you’re looking for a sign, BOOM, here it is. Overcome that fear, because only once you overcome it will you be able to plan a clear path to move on. I’m rooting for you, girl. You got this!