Changing your goals is okay

Henri Robbins | Staff Writer

Up until last year, I planned to be a STEM major. To be exact, I wanted to study astrophysics. As a child, it was my dream, my greatest pursuit, an aspiration that I simply couldn’t tie down. It amazed me to no end that you could look up, see so much, and be able to answer so little. Simply put, it was something I wanted to do all of my life, and that up until then I had been dead-set on.

But then, I decided to load up on college-level math and science courses, and I simply realized that I didn’t really like math all that much. There was nothing against the teachers or the classes themselves, they just didn’t catch my attention as I had thought they would. There was so much stress, so much abstract thinking, so much of it that just felt absolutely banal. But I took the opportunity to explore what I really cared about, what I loved to do, and I found that I absolutely adored writing. The intricacies, the boundaries, the endless potential, all of it was so enthralling to me. I had found something that I enjoyed not only the concepts of, but the creation of too.

Of course, I didn’t stop loving space, it was just that I found that the technical end of it — numbers, graphs, formulas — simply wasn’t for me. Earlier this year, I wrote something on the Opportunity rover, connecting what I had always followed with where I was going. 

And that’s really what it comes down to: Even when something doesn’t turn out, no matter how long it took to build up, that doesn’t make you any worse off for it — you made the journey that far, and if nothing else it got you to move forward. What people forget is that knowledge is compounding – just because it’s not in the exact direction you wanted to go doesn’t mean it’s not helpful. Just because you don’t want to be an astrophysicist doesn’t mean you can’t apply the knowledge elsewhere, and the fact that you aren’t going to be the next Bolt or Djokovic doesn’t mean you should give up completely. 

With all of that, it’s okay to not know where you’re going. It’s still high school, you’re not dead set into anything. You’re still young, and you’re still learning. 

Be willing to make a change, to explore what makes you happy, and leave behind what you don’t love. In the end, your life is to make your current self happy, not your five-year-old self, not your parents, not your teachers. It’s about doing what you love, and sometimes that takes breaking everything down. 

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