Over the past month, I have been going through a quarter-life crisis, which is a thing. I have recently decided that I will be changing majors from biology to psychology. A lot of people who know me would ask why I would do such a thing in the middle of my third year of college and not just "tough it out" or "finish what I started". Well, here are some answers to that, in no particular order.
Reason #1: Falling Behind
For the first time in my undergraduate career, I have found myself fighting with my back against the wall. In a previous post, I mentioned I was without my medication for several weeks, which resulted in my not going to multiple lectures and recitations. Well, missing several lectures and recitations is hard to come back from. I am willing to openly admit that I am barely getting by in my classes, despite the fact that I have been doing everything I can to attempt to succeed, which brings me to my next reason.
Reason #2: No Foundation
This is like the first reason, only slightly different. I previously stated I have fallen behind and I am trying to get back into the groove. However, pre-health courses are taken sequentially. In other words, I have to take Organic Chemistry 1 before going to Organic Chemistry 2, and so on. If I am currently not doing well in my classes, how can I reasonably expect myself to do well in the courses proceeding this one, let alone the medical field? Trying to learn things I was not able to in my first month of the semester is very difficult, especially when classes like these move at an alarmingly fast pace. It has been very stressful, and this introduces the next reason as to why I am switching.
Reason #3: My Health
If any pre-health student were asked how hard the concentration is, I would like to think most people would answer it is extremely difficult. Well, that difficulty has caused a lot of stress for me, which, in turn, has exacerbated my Crohn's disease symptoms and has triggered many panic attacks. I can understand that it is necessary to work hard to get into any field. However, in my opinion, I am no longer willing to put my health at risk for this. I look down the road and I see that, if I continue down the pre-health track, I will spend 2 more years at NYU, 4-5 more years in medical school, and at least 6 years for both residency and fellowship. I am not willing to put my body under that amount of stress for over a decade and make myself feel a thousand times worse than how I feel now for something I may not even want to do, and my uncertainty is very crucial in this decision.
Reason #4: Uncertainty and Loss of Passion
I remember when I first went to Florida State. I was so excited to start my path of becoming a doctor, and I did enjoy my freshman year a lot, even if I had to withdraw second semester and I was taking 4-5 classes per semester. However, when I got to NYU, I found myself questioning my desire to do this. I had my reasons for wanting to go into medicine, and they were extremely valid, but this semester, I have literally found myself going through the motions. At first, I found the things I did in my laboratory courses interesting, but I got bored with time. Having been hospitalized multiple times, I would rather have my doctor be interested in the things they do instead of having apathy towards the field.
Reason #5: Money Does Not Talk
I found myself interested in psychology when I took Social Psychology at Florida State. I loved the class, and I did work in a lab focusing on the effects of autonomic arousal on healthy aging adults, and I found myself fascinated with the field. Maybe I would not focus on the stuff I did for my project, but I do think psychology is interesting. Plus, I have been in counseling for the past couple of years, and I found that it made a difference with me. If my counselor made a difference for me, maybe I could make a difference for someone else and actually be passionate about that. I am aware of the money I would give up if I did not pursue medicine, and I do not care. In my opinion, my passion is more important than what I make.
Changing majors is not a "last ditch effort" to maintain a GPA that means nothing in the real world, and it is not an act of "quitting". In fact, it is quite the opposite; it is a measure of true strength because changing my major empowered me to do what I care about so I will have no regrets in 20-30 years.
I am taking a stand for my future and, to quote Invictus, "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."
-- Ricardo Canelo