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A confused undergrad.

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  • #66853
    Luna
    Participant

    I’m 19 and currently working on my undergraduate degree in biological engineering. Like many of you here, I am unsure of what path I want my life to take. I chose engineering because I am good at math and physics, and it was a safe bet (employment wise). In addition, my mother has her doctorate in mathematics and has always been encouraging of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. I have always genuinely been fascinated by biology, but I am genuinely fascinated by a LOT of things. This constantly makes it extremely difficult for me to make decisions. I can never pick the restaurant to eat at, I waited until the last possible day to chose my college, and lately I’ve really been questioning my choice in my major.

    Biological engineering has a lot to do with sustainability, agriculture, waste treatment, and bio-energy. I positively believe that all of these areas are important, but I also believe that political justice is important, education is important, creative expression is important…

    I just feel lost (don’t we all?). I’ve been living away from home since I went to boarding school at age 16. By going to boarding school, I grew up a lot and began the journey to discovering who I really am outside of my family. I feel like I grew more as a person in my 2 years at boarding school than I have in my 2 years at college. I spend most of my free time doing homework (alone), and it drains me. I volunteer every now and then, which is rewarding. But other than that I have no time to dedicate to clubs, finding a job, interning, or forging meaningful relationships with my peers. I second-guess myself all the time; college is so expensive and I know that I should enjoy these years of my youth. The path I choose here can dictate the rest of my life, I don’t want to spend all my college years devoted to a field that won’t bring me happiness.

    I know that I’ll be able to make the biggest impact one day in the area where I’m most passionate, but I am not sure if engineering is it. It’s hard to ask you all for advice, when none of you really know me. But I’m just hoping someone could impart some wisdom on me about decision making in general or choices they’ve made in life regarding finding/ following your passions.

    #66854
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    You Know who is best qualified to help you take a career decision ? – A Career Counsellor . I and Most of Us Can impart wisdom About some General Things And some career related advice But Not necessarily always “The Best” Career advice . The Good thing Is You are hardworking And You must remain hardworking – you will find Continued Success in life .

    The best set of people or friends will come automatically to You but the best relationships comes when You put effort into iT – Always Remember that . Leave aside atleast a part oF Your time for people .

    As For Your career interests ,If You already have something You like in your mind other than biology And You If Thats what You are sure You like , And you are sure You will get a decent paying job , Why not Go For iT ?

    #66871
    Luna
    Participant

    I appreciate your response!

    That is good advice about a career counselor. But unfortunately I go to a university with 25,000 students, so the counselors are a) very busy and b) don’t really give thoughtful advice tailored to each person. They basically sign your enrollment sheets if you know what classes you want to take, and then say adios.

    The hardworking part is true. I work very hard, which is why my gut feeling tells me I have a chance of actually making it in a competitive field that I’m passionate about, like painting or writing. But then my brain tells me I’m better off playing it safe. What if I don’t have as much natural talent as I think I do? There are a lot of talented people out there. My brain says “Finish your degree, and then do what you want if you don’t like it” …but I can see myself having a million more excuses at that point why I should just keep playing it safe.

    You are right that I need to make time to put effort into my relationships though. That is very important to me and I’m trying!

    My grandmother died a few weeks ago, which is part of the catalyst for this mini-crisis I’m having. I know that life is short, and the true things that matter are family and love. When I went home last weekend, I was overcome with a sense of peace due to the simple fact that I have parents and a brother and dogs that love me. All other problems were minuscule in comparison. This makes me think that the quality of my life will not depend as much on my career choice as it will on my relationships I build. But I don’t know.

    Thoughts?

    #66878
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Luna, The Best Thing i can say Is that Relationships are not just the answer . You must succeed in both your career and your relationships . Otherwise If you have one and not the other , You will be disatisfied in atleast one department And This failure might affect the other . Because suppose You have problems in your home or with parents , it might affect Your academic studies etc . However , The good thing is you dont need to be the most successful person in the world to be happy . Atleast a medium success works . Also , Wanting Relationships is not an excuse to keep on pondering or worrying over not having them , Cause You cant make force some people to love You And Majority of the times in life , You will be alone and make decisions alone .

    My Best advice is to not let Necessity of wanting a relationship affect Your academics . Your academics will be over soon , and after that You still Have about 3/4 th of Your life left To attempt to start a relationship and to progress the relationship . 🙂
    Remember : The best relationships come naturally and automatically and not forced .

    Fret not over not feeling a part of a something . Everything will come in due time . Studies and enjoyment are both important . Cause Only an emotionally stable mind can concentrate in studies . So leave aside a part of your life for Enjoying , whether it be sports or music or movies or club , whatever .

    Most importantly , Be caLm .

    #66910
    LoveAndLive
    Participant

    Hi Luna!

    I can totally relate to your situation. Though I’m done with college and am in grad school now, I too feel like my heart lies somewhere else. Everyone tells me that my dreams are impractical and will not get me employment, which is true. I’m at a stage where I cannot go back and fix things. So, the only advice I can give you from my own experience is that, try finding your happiness in the moment, in whatever you’re doing and at the same time try to identify what it is that you’re really passionate about. You can start taking baby steps towards pursuing it, for instance, reading up more on some issue that interests you. As is said, an ocean is created by millions of small droplets, you can slowly and steadily move towards finding your true calling in life. And as for engineering, my parents always tell me that nothing in life goes waste. Probably a few years down the line you would not regret the fact that you did your major in this subject. This was probably universe’s way of telling you that you must listen to your heart. Don’t worry too much. Just go with the flow and things will fall in place sooner or later. All the best! 🙂

    #66915
    Jessa
    Participant

    Hey Luna, here’s my brief two cents:

    Especially if you’re intelligent and multi-talented, picking a field can be hard. Try taking a few online career tests. Sounds cheesy, but they can be a great guide if you’re indecisive. This question below might also help you. These are common motivators for WHY people actually want to work, instead of sitting on the couch at home. If you can rank them from most to least important, it will help guide you toward a field that is likely to be a good long-term choice. If you can find a career that fits your top two, bingo! You could also try working backwards: picture your dream job(s), do some research on what they are really like, and then figure out what degree you need to get there.

    What is most important to you in your work?
    a) Feeling fulfilled and truly enjoying what I do.
    b) Honoring my family’s wishes and carrying on their legacy.
    c) Making plenty of money and having financial security.
    d) Contributing to the world and making it a better place.

    You sound like a hard worker, so I’m sure you know that any career takes work. Any career will also give you burnout if you let it define you and take up all your time. There’s a lot more to you than your chosen field- especially since you could be good at so many things! Schedule time for friends and hobbies. And remember that hobbies and clubs are a great way to stay in touch with both people and passions outside your career. I will never be a professional baker, but I whip up cupcakes and pies every opportunity I get just because I love doing it. My friend was a psych major, but she went to multicultural hour and TA’d for Spanish classes just because she enjoyed it. Picking a major doesn’t mean you have to give up your other interests.

    – Jessa

    #66941
    leibling
    Participant

    Hi Luna,

    One of the problems in our modern society today is that there is a notion that one should gravitate towards a specific field. Obviously this is seen in universities where we are pushed to only study one field, and maybe dabble around a few others. Unfortunately, such a big separation has been made between the diverse fields of academia these days. The problem here is that all things are more connected than the way we see them. There are not only many links between general areas of the same field (i.e. chemistry and biology have much overlapping and intertwining concepts), but all areas of different fields (i.e. physics is related to music which is related to neuroscience which is related to psychology which is related to philosophy which is related to religion, and so on.) Society has lost the way of showing how valuable the connections are between all aspects of important domains. Back in the Renaissance, great intellectuals more commonly polymaths (educated in many fields).

    With this being said, even if you do finish your degree in engineering, what you study in school does not define who you are and what your passions are. If you find something else you enjoy, perhaps you could add a minor to your degree, which might add some time onto your studies, unfortunately. Or, you could take a year/semester off of school to explore other things, by reading, travelling, browsing the internet, talking to people, etc. Taking a break can really give us the necessary time to mature and discover how we want to proceed with future decisions. You are still SO young, at 19. You have time to explore and change your mind.

    Good luck!

    #66970
    Luna
    Participant

    Wow! I am so grateful to all of you for responding and giving such wise advice. I do have a tendency to worry and over think things, so I will try to live more in the moment and enjoy doing so.

    I am very inspired now to do some inner reflection on the words you have all told me. The first step for me now is time management, because I feel so busy and burdened all the time that thinking about my future, career planning, researching study abroad, joining clubs and perusing interests, etc…always takes a sideline. I don’t know how to shake it, but I’m a perfectionist. If it comes down to spending my evening hours doing the above things or doing homework, I do homework (which is actually what I am in the middle of now, sadly). However, I am aware of how much time in the day I waste. If I can minimize this, I think I will fret a lot less about my studies and have time to really enjoy the present moment and experience of college.

    I’m sorry for the lack of insight in this response, as I just finished doing some physics homework and the left side of my brain is currently in control. I just want you all to know how grateful I am that you all actually care! A lot of times, I feel like people I know don’t really want to listen to these problems (or just don’t know what to say).

    #67009
    Peace
    Participant

    Hi Luna,
    Wow, 19. You need to go out and party and have fun. You don’t see it looking forward, but I see it looking back. The most important thing is:
    1) Have a plan or goal
    2) Stay the course

    As long as you at least have a plan/goal, you will get where you need to be. My plans have changed a thousand times in life. Believe me, it is more important to have a plan than what the plan is or how to get to the promised land.

    You are sweet, you want to make a difference in this world and you will make a difference in this world. Good luck to you and much peace to you

    #67659
    Anna
    Participant

    What you do now does not dictate the rest of your life.

    There are no rules in life.

    If you finish your degree, that doesn’t mean you have to continue along that same pathway and do what society/uni/you expect for the rest of your life forever and ever from now until you die.

    If you finish your degree, you could choose another pathway, choose a different career, multiple careers, or whatever your heart is telling you to follow at the moment.

    If you decide that what you are studying is not working for you now, you can choose to finish, choose to do transfer to a different course/uni, choose to defer, choose not to finish – whatever you like.

    You do not have to spend your life focused on one thing only. I have a degree and only work around 20% of my time in that industry. I am self employed and run 3 small businesses that are completely unrelated to each other. I thought I’d have to focus on one thing but I realised not only do I NOT want to become stuck in one thing forever and ever until I cry or die… I realised WE ALL GROW and our needs/wants/thoughts/focuses/desires/dreams/goals are constantly growing and changing with us. And that is ok, because we can change what we are doing to suit our current focuses and dreams 🙂

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