I started off my freshman year wanting to be a psychiatrist. I’ve had my mind made up ever since I was in 5th grade. I was absolutely, positively, sure that I would NOT be one of the many people who change their major – or so I thought.
Wrong. Not even a full semester in I knew I wanted out. Not because the classes were challenging (even though they definitely were) but because I started thinking of my future. I always knew I wanted a family, kids, and to be able to someday be considered that “trophy wife” someone has. Being a doctor would simply not allow me to have that much open time. I would be working hours on end, and wouldn’t be able to just call in “sick” at any given moment. In my current internship, which is in the psychiatry unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, I always see the doctors with an overload of work and hectic schedules. Being a doctor meant real, tough commitment.
I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do. I’ve had this dream ever since I was a young girl. I promised my parents I would stick with it and didn’t want to let them down. However, after calling my mom for the 2034839th time bawling about how stressed I was about the situation I was in, she eventually slapped some reality in me:
“Lizbeth, it’s okay if you change your major. It does not mean you failed – it does not mean you’re a quitter. It simply means you finally saw the reality of life and are choosing a different path.”
My mom was right. I immediately scheduled an appointment with my academic advisor to change my major. I went in completely clueless. I told her that I didn’t want to completely give up my dream of working with people, but I also didn’t want that to someday become my life. I left with about fifteen brochures on different majors and careers and was able to explore new options.
That’s when the Kindergarten Education dream began. All of my close friends said that would be the perfect career plan for me. I was lively, I loved working with children, and I just overall fit the image of being a kindergarten teacher. I called my mom again and told her my plan – but mommas know best and she shut down my new dream right away. I was in denial at first and refused to listen to her advice, and stuck with the idea for a month or so. After emotions settled, I finally listened to her side. She told me that if I ultimately chose to be a teacher, I wouldn’t be able to travel for my career, compete with others in my field, and would just simply be “stuck” in one place. It opened up my eyes and I quickly realized it was an impulse decision and I needed an out.
Back with the academic advisor I went. I went in all frazzled again. Fortunately, my freshman year academic advisor was so sweet and truly tried helping me figure out where I belonged. We looked at many options. Towards the end she suggested clinical counseling since it was similar to my original field, just without the ability to prescribe medication. It would allow me to work on my own time, travel wherever I wanted, and I was always able to climb up the professional ladder. It all made sense. It was truly like a light bulb went off and I realized that’s what I truly wanted to do. I went back to my internship to look at the counseling unit instead of the psychiatric unit, and realized it was what I wanted to do. I could truly see myself there.
So here I am, working to get my PhD in counseling. A competitive field, where I wouldn’t be on call 24/7 or be “stuck” in one place.
My advice for any incoming freshman is to STAY OPEN! I came in confident that I wouldn’t change my major, choose a different career, or mix my life up. But here I am, with a different major, different career plan, and a different life plan. Nothing is for sure, and keeping an open mind about everything truly lets you figure out what you are meant to do.