THE BLOG

Becoming Realistic and Serious in College

02/03/2015 10:50 am ET | Updated Apr 05, 2015

Would you rather follow your dreams and risk stability, or go the safer route and be paralyzed by the question, "What if?" I had to ask myself this question after being coaxed by my parents to pursue a career in Nursing and, then later on, being accepted into one of the top nursing programs in the country -- The University of Michigan.

Many individuals might call me crazy for being unhappy with my future plans of being a nurse when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $65,470 in 2012 and the profession itself grants the ability to make a difference in others' lives on a daily basis.

Some might even dub me insane when they learn that I'm switching my career plans from nursing to pursuing a career in communications with the hopes of getting into digital media marketing, or, if by some rare alignment of the stars, becoming the next Oprah Winfrey. Ever since I was in 6th grade, I knew I wanted to go into something communications related with my love for writing, blogging, planning events, creating advertisements, etc. My parents encouraged me, for I was their little girl with the big dreams and the sparkling eyes who could achieve anything she wanted.

"It's time to be realistic and serious now."

I remember this moment very vividly when, at the age of 15, I was bombarded with reality by my concerned parents. The fear that their daughter wouldn't be able to find a job, or maintain a family terrified my father, a quality engineer, and mother, a financial manager. It was with these worries that they pushed me towards a career in nursing; a profession that "granted me the ability to have a family and be a good mom." With my innate desire to make my parents happy, I put my dreams on the back burner for 3 years and applied for colleges with the mindset of becoming a nurse.

Whenever doubts haunted me, I did everything I could to convince myself that nursing is what I wanted to do; I failed. Nursing is an extremely noble profession, but it is also one that is extremely demanding emotionally and physically, and you have to really love it to like it. At the age of 18, after enrolling into nursing school, I felt trapped. I wasn't excited for my future like my peers, and developed the ability to fake a smile and gleefully tell others, "I'm going for nursing! I'm 99.5% sure that's what I want to do." I always threw in the random percentage statistic to tacitly acknowledge my true feelings.

But, here I am now, on the first day of my second semester of college taking classes that will help me reach my goals that I am genuinely excited to try and achieve. After months of convincing my parents that this was the right decision for me, I managed to get their approval, and have learned plenty of things about myself and what I owe myself; things that I plan to take with me for the rest of my life:

  1. Never ignore the voice in your head: You're the only person in the world who has access to your deepest thoughts, the strongest understanding of your abilities, and the firmest grasp on what you want out of your life. Had I followed this advice, I would've saved myself countless agonizing hours of feeling lost, and trapped on a path that I felt was beyond my control. The contrary side of this is that my "fasting" period from indulging in what it was that I really wanted to do has made me extremely hungry for Communications related things and had given me the extra motivation to put myself out there to make up for lost time. Either way, I ended up listening to myself, and couldn't be happier.
  2. Be realistic (within reason): I firmly believe that every person, when granted the same opportunities, has the ability to achieve whatever it is he or she sets out to achieve. However, it is clear that some things are more difficult or risky than others. If what you want to achieve is risky, don't ignore the facts. Instead, make sure you are fully aware of the risks and try and do everything you can to improve the odds of success of becoming the best version of yourself that'd achieve anything. Personally, I know that communications is a risky field to go into, so, I'm pairing my major with relevant minors and am choosing to learn Arabic to make myself more marketable. In addition, I know most first jobs in communications have a low-starting pay. So, how am I dealing with that? I'm dedicating 15 hours a week to being a part of my university's housing staff, and taking 17 credits/semester to avoid graduating with a huge debt. Don't be afraid to dream big. Don't be afraid to "go for it." DON'T be blind to the hard work it'll take to get there.
  3. Sometimes "going for it" can be the most terrifying thing in the world. While I can say that I'm truly the happiest I've ever been, I'm also equally terrified. The thing about "going for it" is that it gives you the chance to mess up and fail in what you want most in the world. If I had stayed with nursing, I'd always regret not pursuing my "great goals." But, the image I have in my head of how my life will turn out could be nothing close to reality. I'm going to do everything humanly possible to try to attain my goals, and hope for the best.