My friend Tirzah has recently made a life altering decision. I asked her to share her experience here so we could all see what she has done, why she has done it, and understand how her decision has given her a freedom in her life she hasn’t had until now. Her story is an inspiration for those of us who keep doing the safe thing, even when it makes us unhappy. Tirzah told me, “Changing my major in college was one of the scariest things I have done.” So glad she is willing to share her story with us!
I remember that nagging, ache-like feeling in the back of my head every time I’d zipper up my bag and get ready for college during the morning.
“This isn’t what you love to do.”
I was already in my third year of college. Working on a bachelor’s degree in general biology with a fairly good shot of getting into medical school. My grades were doing well and my family was super excited. I was already looking at prospective medical schools that I would be applying to soon. Everything was going great, except…
I wasn’t passionate about what I was studying
For 3 years I carried that secret in my heart. I determined that somewhere along the road to becoming a doctor, I would somehow magically love it and make people proud of me. Even though the majority of my time studying consisted in me thinking “Why on EARTH did I choose this major?”. I also thought, “I REALLY don’t like this!!”, but I persevered. Partly because of my own stubbornness. But partly to feel like I had done something of importance in my life and out of fear of disappointing family with my decision.
My true passion was in the arts, specifically cooking. Within the very opposite world of science? I often found myself wishing that I could be working or studying something that made me genuinely made me excited.
It didn’t stimulate me
I believe passion and growth go hand in hand. If you are not interested in something, you will have no desire to learn and gain knowledge over whatever it is you don’t like. With cooking, I would often drop my science homework to spend time working on learning new techniques in the kitchen. I would look for new recipes, watches documentaries on cooking, etc. I literally CRAVED to learn more about it with the little bits of free time I had on my hands.
Cooking stimulated my desire to start a food blog and film cooking videos with a friend, learn how to make food for people with certain dietary restrictions or allergies, and branch out into different territories related to the culinary arts. My passion ignited a desire to learn. That’s when I realized that:
I wanted to study something that truly made me happy
While studying general biology, I became increasingly unhappy as the semesters went by. In some ways I found momentary pleasure from studying hard and getting good grades in the courses I took. However, I was not looking forward to the next 8-9 years of studying that awaited me. (More power to you if that’s what you see yourself in though!)
During that time, I had to make a decision based on the question: “Which of these two careers will make me happy, regardless of what others may think?”
Believe me when I say that I literally heard it all when it was even mentioned that I was considering a change in my career plans. I heard countless objections such as—“You’re not going to be someone important!” and “You won’t earn more money that way!”
And well… that’s exactly right. I may not be a super important person one day who cures kids with cancer and gets a hefty paycheck at the end of each month. Probably I’ll be making that important person’s dinner or lunch. There will be long hours in a hot kitchen, getting orders, all while running my own restaurant someday.
But I will be happy.
More often than not, we choose a major or field of work that aligns with someone else’s idea of what happiness or success looks like. That could be your parents’, society, people you look up to, etc. Whether we realize it before choosing a college major or somewhere along the journey like I did, breaking away from that can lead to my next reason for changing majors:
I decided to let go of my fears
Pursuing your dreams and “doing your own thing” is not always going to be the easiest decision to make. In my case, I had to face the daunting task of figuring out how I was going to manage paying the tuition for the culinary school I applied to.
The school is overseas in the United States, not in Puerto Rico, where I currently live. This was along with taking on the responsibility of learning how to manage my own finances and pay for my living expenses. That alone terrified me.
Fear is a result of not completely understanding how something works. I took the time to sit down and research scholarship opportunities. It took time to figure out how I would pay for my studies with guidance from my parents. I also starting a savings fund for my studies and gradually began to learn.
With the correct planning and knowledge, the scariest part of this venture was suddenly not as daunting anymore. Rather, it motivated me to keep making more money-conscious decisions with my spending. It also meant I needed ways to find ways to earn more money in my spare time.
Changing my major in college
When it comes down to it, the person who will have to live with the choice you’ve made. You will endure the countless hours studying and practicing. Financial sacrifices will be made (if that is your situation), and ultimately assume the responsibility of managing your plans for the future. You will be the product of these choices. Only you will be the one to deal with the aftermath they bring.
By making the decision to change my major, I have also chosen to be passionate, stimulated, happy, fearless, and unapologetically true to myself.
As a final note, if you find yourself on a similar path as I did take some time. Whether you’re just starting out in college or maybe somewhere in between give it some thought. I encourage you to think about these reasons and flesh out why you feel the way you do. Take the time to know what your strengths are and where your calling lies. Whether that’s being a brain surgeon, a historian, a chef, a financial advisor, or even the head of your own business.
Be truly passionate about it and set out to pursue it with all of your heart.
I am so proud to know Tirzah and see her willing to boldly step out of traditional expectations and truly follow her passion. I believe she will be the better for it and can’t wait to hear all about culinary school!