Since my sophomore year when I joined my high school paper, I had known that I was born to be a journalist. I ascended the ranks from reporter to features editor to editor-in-chief. I applied to a sampling of the best journalism schools in the country. Finally, I arrived at IU, ready to pursue my journalistic dreams and one day work for USA Today.
Two months into my freshman year at IU, I changed my major.
I can’t really describe how it happened. IU is an absolutely fantastic journalism school, and I have only positive things to say about my semester there. I started working at the Indiana Daily Student (IDS), a nationally renowned college paper. I worked with professors whose past careers in journalism far surpass anything I could hope to achieve. I met great people, and I learned so much.
I just wasn’t right.
I started to realize it when I began to work for the IDS. Near the beginning of September, I was assigned my first story—a group of activists who were holding a small, peaceful demonstration advocating for an intelligent use of public space. I should have been thrilled. Finally, I was out in the field, reporting—and not just interviewing teachers in my high school. This was real.
And yet, I dreaded it. I didn’t want to interview them, I felt anxious and upset every time I thought about my upcoming assignment. And when I finally attended the event and interviewed everyone, I didn’t want to write the story. And when I finally turned the story in, I felt exhausted and couldn’t dream of writing the next story. Which, unfortunately, was due in three days.
Maybe it will get better, I thought. I just have to get used to it. This is my calling.
Another reporter took the second story. Relief enveloped me.
Why would I want to go into journalism if I hated it this much? Back in sophomore and junior year of high school, I liked reporting. I liked writing. But senior year, as editor-in-chief, I wrote little. Instead, I devoted time to managing the paper and designing every issue with my features editor. We threw ourselves into the paper’s design, and, until I arrived at the IDS, I didn’t realize how much my love of design surpassed my love of writing.
Still, journalism was hard to give up. It is an honorable career. Every day, journalists speak the truth, no matter how unpopular it is. They uncover scandals, inform the public. They safeguard our democracy. Above all, I just wanted to do something important with my life.
But I realized that, once it became clear that I didn’t enjoy journalism, I couldn’t to continue to pursue it, no matter how much I respected the career.
So I met with my counselor, did some research, and talked to my mom. And, as it turns out, I didn’t stray to far from journalism and design. I’m now a marketing major in the Kelley School of Business, and I’m still taking advertising and design classes in the journalism school. I can take advantage of two of the top-ranked schools at the same university. I still work for the IDS, am involved in the Society for News Design (IU's chapter is one of the largest college groups in the country), and have a marketing internship in the Office of Student Life and Learning. I’m looking at careers in advertising and brand management, though I’m considering attending graduate school afterward to study design and business.
If you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, stop. As soon as possible. Sometimes things get hard—design is quite tedious and frustrating sometimes—but I’m passionate about it. If you don’t love a subject or career enough to push through the tough times, you’re going to be miserable.
Don’t be afraid to admit that maybe your life isn’t as perfectly planned as you thought it was. A fantastic path can still appear before you. I would have never considered IU if it hadn’t been for the journalism school, but now that I’m here, I have amazing opportunities through both the business and journalism schools. If you realize you’re on the wrong path, all is not lost.
Do what you love. Do everything with passion. And don’t settle for less.