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Why Changing Your Major is an Act of Bravery

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By Hannah Alvarado
Blog Content Contributor

Okay, okay, I know it’s not a death defying act, there’s no dragon breathing fire or kingdom to defend, but hear me out. Once upon a time, I was a young, driven biology major. A community college, pre-med student with every intention of becoming a pediatrician. The sciences had always been absolutely fascinating to me, in combination with my humanitarian urges, and I believed it to be a match made in heaven. The only issue? I’d been torn in two, for as long as I could remember, between medicine and my desire to write.

All I kept thinking was how I was going to explain it to the people around me. I’d noticed the look on a peer’s face when I said “Biology.” It was one of deep respect and acknowledgement. The days when I’d started testing the waters saying “English,” I got shallow nods of ‘of-course-you-are’ type attitudes, which were extremely disheartening. Thus leading to the string of questions in my head: Would I still be taken as seriously as a liberal arts major, as I was when I told people I was a biology major? Would I actually find a job? Was I making a horrible mistake and banking on something that should always remain my hobby, instead of my career?!

The entirety of my time spent at community college, I cowered in fear masquerading as a medical student while taking several (unnecessary) writing courses. All because I lacked the bravery to go for the career my heart truly desired. My parents and peers were a bit biased for one career path over the other. It isn’t too hard to think which one they preferred me to pursue, a career of helping children and potentially saving lives as a doctor or… possibly starving to death as a would-be writer.

Now, like I said, it doesn’t sound so complicated on paper. Just go on and pursue your dreams, right? Go to any classroom and you see a variety of “believe in yourself” type inspirational posters. The best of those scenic photos with a white text over them at the very least fill you with optimism. But, let me tell you it was absolutely terrifying to actually take that advice.

After speaking to a mentor and professor at my community college, I realized that I had to pursue my dreams. I could fail miserably, sure, and never be a writer… or I could be really amazing at it, and somehow, some way, make a living off of it. Either way though, I would never know until I tried. Money was always more than a bit tight for me, so the prospect of throwing away thousands of dollars to chase a dream fueled my fear. But as community college came to a close, and I received that hard-won war of achieving my first degree I set my sights on Texas State University, and as official English major.

To anyone debating between the major that sounds good on paper, versus what calls out to them in their heart, I leave you with this advice: trust yourself, most importantly, and it’s okay to be scared. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” And remember that you are your biggest critic. It’s true, I have no clue if changing my major was the ultimate “right” decision in life. I don’t know if I’ll be the next Hemingway (minus the drinking problem) or William Blake. I don’t know if I’ll even be at “Bradshaw” level, which isn’t too high on my own scale. What I know is that changing your major, however late in the game, is an act of courage, and I salute anyone brave enough to do it.

Featured illustration by Melissa Monrroy.

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