R’Perspective:” A first-year’s journey of finding a life worth living

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

 

Being stuck in a rut is not an ideal situation to be in. Especially when it has to deal with your major. You know you are in the wrong major when the courses are either too difficult, unappealing, boring or you are looking for excuses not to go to class. But hey, if you make it through your grueling years as an undergraduate and receive your degree, you are more than likely going to find a job! A job that is just as difficult, unappealing or boring as your major, but you get to work in it for many years to come. What keeps you in this situation? It could be pressure from family, friends or even yourself. You know that this major is not for you, so what do you do?

What did I do? I followed my gut.

Coming to UCR as a first generation college student, I did not know what I wanted to do. In high school, one of my teachers recommended that I should become a mechanical engineer (ME). I took my teacher’s advice, applied and made it into BCOE as a declared ME major.

I felt proud of my “title” and solidified it by choosing to live in an engineering living community in Lothian. My first year held high hopes and dreams of becoming an engineer. I met a lot of people in my living community, some who became my closest friends. College could not have been off to a better start. However, by the time winter quarter came, reality struck like a car hitting a wall.

My second quarter was the darkest of all of my time spent in college. Once I started engineering classes, my grades began to fall apart, I became constantly stressed, I would lie about having fun, I faked smiles, I became outrageously sick, I fell apart. After my midterms, I decided I couldn’t last any longer. Physics, engineering, it no longer had its appeal, and thinking about a life that this major held, I knew it was not for me. I had to get out.

I would have instantly gotten out of the major, but what held me back was worrying about what others thought. I would ask people in my class if they would become a teacher or something different. They each responded the same. They measured me with their eyes and told me that there isn’t enough pay to become a teacher and shunned me. This made me think, what would happen if my friends in my learning community found out I was to switch my major? What about my family? They all think I am going to be this amazing wealthy engineer. I knew that I didn’t want to be an engineer, but the thought of being judged by others was too stressful for me to switch. I continued my classes the rest of the quarter, and found myself in the amazing world of academic probation (AP).

Attending the mandatory AP seminar, I was told that I could bring my grades up and “succeed in life” if I was to focus on the money. Of all things! Not the idea of fulfilling the life you want, but to focus on the pay. I realized then that I wasn’t doing it for the money. I wasn’t doing it for myself. I was an engineer because society around me held it on a high pedestal. What good is it when your self-recognition is affirmed by the people around you? In that moment, I decided no longer will I worry about what others thought. What matters is myself.

In my third quarter I was enrolled in “fluff” classes in order to bring my GPA up. Within these “fluff” classes, I discovered my own interests and passion. I didn’t discuss it with my family or friends and made the best decision of my college career. No longer was I bound to this “title” of a major, I found myself bound to my own passion.

I am now a current third-year media and cultural studies major and loving every moment of it. College is a tool and should be used to find your passion. I am in college for one reason only, not to find a job, but to enjoy my life. This life is mine, and there are no social standards that can prevent me from living it to its fullest.

If it is a title, the money, the social status you are looking for, by all means pursue it. It’s what you want and should be that way; but, do not let anyone else keep you from your passion.

 

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