While we like to focus on the high-flyers here at BYU, I personally like to remember that with a campus of 30,000 students there are bound to be a few regular people just like me, trying to find their place in the world.
I have friends who have always known what they were going to do. Three of my friends wanted to be nurses and they did it. I know musicians who are chasing their dreams, dental hygienists who love it, and teachers who can’t wait to inspire youngsters. Even my own husband has loved animals since he was a toddler, and guess what, he’s going to vet school. I, however, have never been this way. I’ve definitely had ambitions; I wanted to be a classical pianist, a pediatrician, and various kinds of teachers. I even wanted to be a theoretical physicist, but I’ve never had one thing that I knew was my calling.
I came to BYU as a declared psychology major. I took general psychology and knew right away, that was not and never would be for me. I had had a great psychology teacher in high school but I soon discovered that the theories I would have to memorize were not nearly as interesting as the cool little tests we had taken and the movies we had watched. So, I had a quarter-life crisis seven years early and cried to a roommate about my frustrations with not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. As we discussed this, I told her how I really liked the cognitive process involved with learning and using a language. She then suggested I look into linguistics. “If you like language so much, you should spend time learning about how it works.”
So, I did. I declared the linguistics major, took the introductory class, and loved it. I had found what I had always been looking for. If I had known myself better then, I would have stuck with it but I let my logical brain recognize the flaws in this plan and talk my heart out of it. I was thinking too much about the future and what my career would end up being with a degree in linguistics. Did I really want to be a computer programmer or a translator or a CIA agent? No, not really.
So, I once again examined my options and decided to get a German teaching degree. I had taken German in high school, continued it in college, and really enjoyed the language. But after another year and a study abroad in Vienna I decided that I wouldn’t enjoy teaching German. I had gained a broader world-view, and a confidence in myself; but not in my German skills
I was at the end of my wits, and my junior year, when I ran into that same roommate again on campus. I told her about my irritation with German and how much I wished I could justify studying linguistics. She told me about her friend who was in the English language program and studying to become an editor and, once again, my eyes were opened to my true passion. I found the program that would let me study linguistics but that would also prepare me with skills I could use in a future career I would actually enjoy. My heart and my brain were finally reconciled.
I think my experience is not uncommon at BYU. We frequently hear about those that know what they want and how they are going to achieve it and, I say, good for them. But for those of us who aren’t so sure, it might just take a good roommate to help us figure out what we really want to get out of this wonderful experience called an education. While we are intended to learn as much as we can about the world around us while we are here at BYU, I had to learn the long and hard way that it’s most important to take the time to learn about yourself and what your desires are.
Enter to learn who you are so you can go forth to serve those who still need to find themselves.