Monday, August 13, 2012

Write on Target

I'm only days away from starting my fourth year of college. These past few years have taught me more about myself than any subject I've learned while there. I started out as a nutrition major, inspired by my loss of thirty-five pounds when I was thirteen years old. I knew it would require a heavy math and science curriculum, two subjects I'm not crazy about. I pushed forward anyway, knowing I'd likely struggle with my typically average performance in both subjects. My family gently reminded me on a regular basis that I needed to make money when I graduated, so studying English, my best subject by far, was not encouraged even though they truly wanted me to be happy. It didn't matter that I never got less than a 90 in an English class in my life; I was convinced that it wasn't a viable career path. Even my English teachers told me it was a hard road.

I figured I could live with making English my minor. I knew deep down that wasn't true. I wanted it to be my main course of study. I kept trying to concentrate on nutrition, but the thought lingered in my mind. My dream was to become a librarian, which not many people understood. Why be a "boring" librarian who writes on the side when I could make good money as a dietitian? I kept this state of mind until I discovered some pretty good answers to my own question throughout my first semester.

Based on a college placement test known as the ACT, my score on the English section placed me into the freshman honors English class. It was the only honors class I was taking. As part of the class' requirement, I had to bring one piece of my work to the library's writing center, a place for undergraduate students to receive help and/or feedback from graduate students. The graduate student helping me that day read it halfway through before asking, "Are you an English major?" I answered no and she exclaimed, "well, why not? You're a talented writer!"

 That right there was the first time I'd seriously considered taking up English. My second biggest indication was completing the class with a 98 while getting a C in math and failing chemistry (re-took it later and received a B-). I knew what I had to do. Yes, nutrition was interesting to me...but it wasn't my passion, nor did I perform well enough in the math and science fields to be considered competitive. Only one subject could evoke such strong enthusiasm. I switched to English and said to hell with money. My battle was not yet over, however. Let's fast forward to one year ago, once I transferred univerisities.

I again became worried about the massive debt I'd accumulated from spending two years at an out-of-state university, plus the debt that was yet to come from finishing my education here in North Carolina. I called my mother in the middle of September 2011 to inform her that I'd be a nutrition and English double-major in the Spring. I convinced myself I'd given up too easily on nutrition. I thought I could try again without abandoning English. HORRIBLE MISTAKE.

I scraped by in the next level of chemistry with a C and had to drop out of physiology mid-semester because I was failing. My graduation date was bumped from 2013 to 2015. Whereas English offered flexibility in what classes you needed and when you could take them, nutrition required a specific set of classes that were only offered certain semesters. Nutrition's strict scheduling wouldn't allow me to fit in an English class for two years. I decided yet again that the suffering was not worth it. In April, I officially re-declared English as my sole major with nutrition as my minor. As it turns out, I'm great at the actual nutrition classes. With nutrition as my minor now, I can still enjoy the healthy living aspect of the field without all the tough science classes.

The combination of being a transfer student whose credits didn't all transfer and making the mistake of double-majoring now puts my graduation date as Spring 2014, pending I don't mess anything up. It's a year later than expected, but it's better than the two years later (at minimum) it would've been had I continued balancing two majors!

I'm a writer at heart. I will spend hours upon hours on a paper without complaint, whereas doing chemistry homework for five minutes causes my brain to scream in agony. Writing ignites such a fire in me that nothing else is capable of causing. I know damn well I might end up poor. My loans continue to pile up, but selling my dreams to pay them off won't happen. I'm in the field where I belong. :)

2 comments:

  1. My journey through college was pretty similar to yours- I had a terrible time with higher math and science, but I always enjoyed the English classes. I nearly stayed put as an English major myself, but I wound up going another direction.

    It's good that you've sifted through your experiences and figured out your passion- some people don't figure that out in their entire lives. And the grad student was right- you are a talented writer. I look forward to reading more.

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  2. I'm happy you found the direction right for you, too. In high school, I thought I knew everything about myself. College opened my eyes to reality.

    Thank you for the compliment. I'm humbled by people who enjoy my writing.

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