An open letter to all my fellow undecided majors

Relax, take a breath — you have plenty of time

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Samantha Cynn is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Riley Walsh | Cavalier Daily

Dear fellow undecided major,

Yes, I know. Trust me, I really do. Being an undecided major can be torturous on Grounds — or on any college campus, for that matter — especially when there are so many people in your life more than willing to offer their sagely and wise-beyond-their-years advice. 

Of course, it isn’t all bad. For every person obnoxiously inserting their own opinion, there’s another person assuring you that there’s plenty of time to make up your mind. Still, hearing someone tell you for the seemingly 100th time, “Actually, it really isn’t that hard to pick a major,” is enough to make you want to pull your hair out by the roots. It is perhaps even worse when — God forbid — someone reacts with complete and utter bafflement, as though being unsure of your own future is some strange, foreign concept unknown to any average, supposedly normal person.

The worst piece of advice I have received relating to my own undecided status was from someone who, upon learning that I hadn’t chosen my major yet, flippantly exclaimed, as if I was the dumbest person alive, “Choosing your major is simple. Just pick something you’re interested in!”

As if I hadn’t thought of that before. As if I don’t have multiple things I’m interested in and I’m not weighing my options before committing to one. As if a lightbulb would go off above my head, and I would shout, “Oh my God, I hadn’t even considered doing that before! I know exactly what I want to do with my life now!” and thank him profusely for the suggestion.

I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. I’m fairly sure at this point that unwillingly receiving counseling on “how to choose a major that’s right for you” is some ritual that we all have to go through before we can truly call ourselves “undecided majors.” However, that doesn’t make it any less aggravating. And it certainly doesn’t make it any less stressful to hear those dreaded words, “What’s your major?”

Back in high school, it felt like everyone but me already had their entire life planned out — career paths, retirement age and all. I myself had and still have plenty of friends who are eager to jump into the workforce with their desired degree at any given moment. Honestly, I give props to them for knowing what they want and having the ambition to pursue it. That’s just not my style. I am notoriously indecisive, so much so that picking a major even now feels like a daunting, insurmountable task. I’m sure you can relate. Let’s not deny what we know to be a universal truth — determining anything that will become an integral part of your identity can be more than a little scary.

But even when the pressure to choose feels like it grows with every passing day, it’s important to remember that yes, it’s okay to be undecided, and yes, it’s also perfectly fine to take some time to relax and enjoy the freedom that being undecided provides. People tend to forget about the benefits of being an undecided major because there’s an implicit assumption in society that people who are undecided “don’t have their life together” or “don’t know what they want.” However, being undecided can be the whole point of pursuing a college education in the first place.

Just think of all the opportunities you have that decided majors don’t! You can take any class you want — seriously, any class, be it Spanish or Intro to Philosophy or Modern African History — and explore to your heart’s content. Being undecided is a time of experimentation. You get to take academic risks. That’s not something many people get the chance to do, and we should be grateful that we do.

Looking back at scholars from centuries past, it’s plain to see that their expanses of knowledge stretched far beyond one area of expertise. Leading intellectuals were philosophers, preachers, writers and scientists all in one. They didn’t get there by concentrating on a single subject. In other words, you could be the next da Vinci. If not, you can at least take comfort in the fact that being educated in a variety of different fields can and will enrich your experience of the world around you.

When people become pigeon-holed into a major or field, they limit their ability to enjoy and live their academic life to the fullest. You and I don’t have that problem. We have the time and leisure to figure out what we like, what we definitely don’t and what we love above all else. You could even say that being undecided is a time to discover yourself — and as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. It’s about learning more about who you are and who you will become as you traverse through your college years.

So don’t stress! Remember that even decided majors will face moments of doubt, and some declared majors will even change theirs altogether — sometimes even multiple times. You and I are definitely not alone in this. Kick back, relax and enjoy yourself. I intend to do just that. I guarantee that your time as an undecided major will be something you’ll look back fondly on in the years to come — no matter how many times someone tries to tell you the opposite.

Sincerely,

The most indecisive undecided major on the planet

P.S. Maybe don’t push off the whole deciding-my-major thing to the end of your second year though. Just my humble advice.

Samantha Cynn is a Life Columnist at The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com. 

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