Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde
Honestly, why is being an adult so hard? When we’re growing up, all of our learning is geared towards getting into college, rather than real life. Did I graduate with any idea how to do taxes, budget, meal plan, decide on a career path, pick a life partner, take care of myself in general? No. Have I been attempting to figure it out as I went along? Yes.
Being an adult is terrifying because of the realness of it all. When you mess up as a kid, there are no real consequences. If you mess up as an adult, like forgetting to pay your bills or not showing up for work, you get in big trouble and have to face real world consequences.
Unfortunately, I didn’t figure certain aspects of my adult life out without a LOT of trial and error. One of those aspects was what I wanted to do with my life. To be quite honest, I still don’t entirely know, but at least I have finally figured out my educational plans.
Let me tell you the story of how I
became a history major.
I’m an Enneagram Type 4 (want to know yours? take a free quiz here!) and one of the main characteristics of type 4s is the incessant need to be unique and original. I was a top student in high school and due to that combined with my need to feel special, I told myself I was going to CHANGE THE WORLD and more importantly, make a load of money doing it. When we were all applying to universities our senior year, most applications wanted to know our intended major. I decided then and there I would be a philosophy major with a double major in business (because I was young and naive) so that I could go on to law school. I basically thought of the most prestigious sounding thing that aligned with my interests and went with it.
I got to BYU and learned that BYU is NOT a fan of people double majoring and the business school was a closed program, meaning you had to apply to get in. I decided, okay that’s fine, I will just minor in business and study philosophy. Throughout freshman year, I took a ton of philosophy classes from an Introduction to Logic to Philosophy of Film (which was one of the best classes I have ever taken). Annoyingly enough, I didn’t think philosophy was enough and I started to wonder if I was cut out for law school.
FLASHBACK FOR BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE:
During my first semester, I had gone to a major fair where all of the humanities programs had set up a table. I was walking around trying to get ideas when this tall man with glasses asked if I wanted to hear about the Middle Eastern Studies program. It sounded like the furthest thing from something I would be interested in but he sounded so excited so I said yes. He told me how BYU had one of the best Arabic programs in the country, about the study abroad in Jordan, and other details of the program. I nodded politely even though I knew I would never be interested.
I walked away from the fair that day and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the thought of studying Arabic out of my head.
Suddenly, I was no longer interested in philosophy as I realized it had no practical use after graduating unless I went to law school. The thought of studying Arabic had never left my mind and in fact, it had done the opposite. I decided to give it a try and signed up for the introductory Arabic class. It changed my life. I instantly fell in love with the language, developed an intense passion for the culture, and was ready to immerse myself into a whole new world (Note: that was NOT intended to be an Aladdin pun). I decided I was going to go all in and declare my major Middle Eastern Studies with an emphasis in History.
Then I met Chase. While he has nothing to do with why I changed my major again, he kind of does. Let me give you a brief synopsis: We started dating and things got serious pretty quick. In order to graduate from BYU with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic (MESA), there is a required study abroad to Jordan. One of the biggest roadblocks in my relationship with Chase was the study abroad looming over our heads. The Jordan study abroad is one of the only majors at BYU that allows spouses to join you. Chase and I talked extensively about him coming with me from the very beginning of our relationship. As I worked my way through sophomore year, mental health issues came about and I fell behind in the program which was good news for Chase and I because it was one more semester before we had to make a pretty big decision: (Am I going on the study abroad without him or are we getting married so he can come with?). We didn’t want to put any sort of deadline on when we would progress our relationship, but it was kind of hard not to with the study abroad giving us the option. I was strongly in favor of Chase accompanying me and Chase was down too–at first. We both realized it wouldn’t be in his best interest academically to come with me but the idea of being apart for so long (the entire summer because he returned home for summers PLUS the semester I would be abroad) was not desirable either. This whole debacle made me question my decision to continue to pursue the MESA program. I decided to think about what I really wanted. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I would lose too much for something I wasn’t actually that interested in if I continued to pursue the path I was on. I realized that I didn’t want to work in any sort of field related to the Middle East, I just wanted to learn Arabic. I was behind in the program so continuing would take just as long as finding a new major. I didn’t want to be away from Chase for 8ish months. So, I decided to switch majors. Again.
My junior year was basically a year of scrambling to figure out what I wanted to pursue next. All of the credits I had completed wouldn’t transfer to many other majors because they were so specific to MESA. I decided I wanted to do something in the event planning industry and pursuing a business degree would be the best way to prepare myself to own a business someday. I signed up for the business pre-requisites but failed the accounting class which was a big issue. The business school only has one application period a year so if I wanted to go the business route, I would need to wait an entire year to apply for the program. With Chase being ahead of me in school at this point, I needed to find a way to graduate as quickly as possible so I could follow him to grad school.
After business didn’t work out, I needed anything I could find that would spit me out of school A S A P but would still be something I would enjoy. I’m a fairly creative and crafty person so I thought, okay, how about Family Consumer Sciences Education. I did all the prep work for this program which included getting approved by the federal government (because this degree included certification to be a teacher) but I never ended up taking a single class because I knew I wouldn’t be happy.
SO at this point, I was feeling desperate. I couldn’t figure out what to study, I wanted to stay at BYU to keep my full tuition scholarship but anything I picked would take too long. I thought okay, let’s figure this out. What if we transfer to BYU Idaho online so I can study business somewhere easier that will allow me to be a student anywhere. I thought this was the perfect solution because I would get to study whatever I wanted but it wouldn’t matter how long it took. I applied to the school, got accepted, and then took Fall of 2019 off of school after Chase and I got married because this girl needed a BREAK.
Sometime around October of 2019, I ran into one of the girls I was an RA for my sophomore year. She was a year younger than me and was graduating an entire semester and a half early. I asked her what her major was and she said history. I KNEW in that moment how I was going to finish school.
I went home and looked up the major requirements for history and saw that it was a teeny major that I could finish in two-three more semesters. The best news was that I had already completed some of the requirements. During my time as a MESA major, I had an emphasis in history so the majority of my classes were history classes. I even took all of the upper level general requirement classes with history emphases because my major (at the time) called for it. After really thinking on it, talking to Chase, and deciding for the last time if that’s what I wanted, I quickly signed up for classes, vowing to myself that NO MATTER WHAT, I would follow through with this program.
It took changing my life plan a total of 5 times before I figured out what I actually wanted to study/do. During that time, I had never felt so desperate and embarrassed in my life. As a student, the most asked question you hear is something along the lines of “what are you studying/planning on doing/etc” and having to explain what I was doing to my family 6 separate times was the actual worst. I felt the need to explain myself and why I hadn’t figured it out yet. I felt judged, scared, and really alone. I looked around and all my other friends seemed to have it all figured out.
And then it all worked out PERFECTLY. I am going to graduate one semester late and guess what? I took an entire semester off, so if you think about it I’m *technically kinda sorta* graduating exactly when I am supposed to. After all that scrambling, panicking, changing, and crying, I am right where I need to be.
Through this process, I realized the importance of appreciating and enjoying and trusting where you are now. I realized that comparing my own progress to the progress of others is the biggest waste of time and emotional energy because in the end, it’s all going to work out no matter what. Even though I didn’t end up on the “path of my dreams” I have ended up somewhere so much better than I ever could have imagined. Things didn’t work out for me at first so that better things could work out later on. I want you to read that again:
Sometimes, things don’t work out at first so that better things can work out later on.
This is such a tough pill to swallow because we are such impatient creatures. I crave control over every aspect of my life and feeling so out of control for so long caused a lot of anxiety. After this experience, I have decided to take control of my life by letting go of the reins a bit. Funny how that works.
This idea seems so counterintuitive at first, but I realized that I wasted a lot of time worrying about something that ended up being nothing. Looking back, I wish I could tell myself “DOM! DON’T WORRY! IT IS GOING TO BE OKAY!” But I can’t. All I can do is take the lessons I learned and do better next time.
So Dear Future Dom When You’re Stressing About Some Unknown In Your Future:
STOP STRESSING! TRUST THE PROCESS! YOU ARE GOING TO BE OKAY! You are going to be okay no matter what ends up working out (or not working out). You might not end up where you thought you were going to, but find beauty in that. Trust the universe, God, or whatever higher power you believe in (even if that power is yourself). You’re gonna be alright.
It is currently June 26th, 2020 and I thought I would take some time to write an additional update to this post, especially now that I am further into my history major. I originally started just adding onto this post but realized I have a lot to say and it probably needs it’s own. You can read that full post here.