Some people know right off the bat exactly what they want. What they want to be when they’re older, where they want to live, even what they want for dinner tomorrow. But what do you do if you just have no idea? We spoke with Olivia who, like many students, is trying to figure out what’s next. Olivia is an international student at the University of Denver who has struggled with figuring out her next step after moving from Ghana to the Colorado to go to school. We also turned to some of the expert ‘decision makers’ out there to help provide some insight!
What was it like when you first came to DU?
At first this freedom was incredible. I could go out whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted, stay out as late as I wanted, wear any clothes I wanted… and just be myself. I was totally free and that was amazing! But as soon as my classes started, that sense of freedom kind of disappeared and all of a sudden I had to start making a million major decisions on my own, which became overwhelming.
Olivia’s experience is a common one. We are all faced with many choices in life, and it can be hard to narrow the path. In Sheena Iyengar’s TED Talk, “The Art of Choosing,” she discusses how unlimited choices can seem more attractive in theory than in practice and can sometimes be paralyzing for those unprepared to deal with too many options.
For a while your Major was undeclared because you were unsure of what direction you wanted to take. What was that like?
My goal of coming to DU was to eventually pursue art, which I knew I could not do back home because art is not really appreciated in Ghana. But once I got here I started to question whether art was right for me? Don’t get me wrong, I love art—I love drawing and being able to express myself through various forms—but could I have a future in art? Being an artist requires perseverance and constant innovation on top of talent and even with that, artists still face hardships in the rarely stable market. So I had to ask myself if I really wanted to be an artist? Or did I just want to practice art as a hobby? Those questions were part of the reason why I applied to DU undeclared in the first place. The other reason was that I didn’t want my parents talk me out of majoring in art. I have a tendency to go down the path that my parents nudge me towards and I wanted to make this decision for myself.
Taking the first step down a new path can be worrisome. Olivia was definitely experiencing some anxiety about making a final decision on her career path. Sometimes getting past the “what ifs” can be difficult, but Huff Post reminds us that 85% of what we worry about won’t happen and that 97% of what you worry about is not much more than your mind’s exaggerations or misconceptions. Keeping this in mind can help you take a deep breath and move forward.
How did you figure out what was right for you?
My first interest in school is obviously art but I decided to take things slow and take a few classes in math and psychology because I could also see myself in either of those fields. I took a course in drawing and ended up loving it because the professor always pushed us to go beyond the limits of our artistic capabilities. But just to make sure it wasn’t just because of the prof., I took a second art class in 3D approaches. Halfway through the course I just knew and after that, there was no point in procrastinating something that was inevitable. And now I’m now longer an undeclared major… I am officially an art major!
Did Olivia make the right choice? We like her approach of trying out different classes and testing out her different skills. myKlovr says to take a semester or even a year or two exploring different subjects. If you’re still not sure, include a minor or second major. More importantly, it says that a person’s professional path isn’t a straight line! Would you do anything differently?
What do you plan to do in the future? Would you offer any advice for other students who also might be undecided?
I still have no clue what my future is going to look like. Who knows, I may add another major (maybe in math), I may get a BFA, I may change my major altogether, or go ahead and get a second degree in art. The point is, life is full of infinite possibilities and we may not always know which road to take. We may struggle with picking a major, keeping up with classes, choosing the right friends. But by following your heart and asking for a little guidance from the people around you, making a decision that will make you happy becomes a lot easier. Even though I may not have my entire life figured out, I’m going to keep making decisions that will make me happy and for now, the future can worry about itself!
How do you make a tough decision? Olivia shared some of her secrets with us but there are a ton of blogs out there that can help you figure out how to make a decision when you’re indecisive. Psychology Today and IQ Matrix give you guidelines while Huff Post tells you to simplify your life and live in the now. Even a fellow WordPress blogger tells us that it’s not a big deal if you haven’t chosen your major yet!