I came to Boston College with a vague plan of success created by my parents called “The Plan.” This strategy made me a biology major on the pre-med track. I’d become a doctor and earn enough money to happily settle down with my future family in the suburbs with my white picket fence. I just had to follow the clearly marked path, as if I was playing Candy Land.
I should make it known that I’m not a brilliant student. I felt safe in the belief that pure determination would get me through, not some innate understanding of thermodynamics. I would go to class, sit in the front, take notes, do the assigned work and rinse and repeat. This routine got me through the first test.
I should say that it got me through, but without flying colors. My chemistry test showed a “C,” and biology a disturbing “B.” In high school, bio was always an easy “A.”
The solution was easy: I should just turn up the pressure on my prearranged plan. Class, notes, homework, repeat. But still, where were my A’s? I spent all my nights making notecards instead of mixed drinks. I didn’t do much of anything besides school work.
I took a deep breath over winter break, but when I returned in the spring nothing went any better. In fact, things spiraled downward. After getting a “D” on my chem test, I needed a one-on-one with the professor. I knew people did this, but never thought I’d need to. He gave me a problem, and I went through all the steps on the board. He reviewed the numbers in front of me.
“So, how is this?” I asked him.
“What did I do?” I looked frantically at my messy writing across the board.
“You added this incorrectly.” He fixed my botched math on the left side of the equation. “That is just stupid,” he so kindly added. I could hardly look at him; my face both gaped in surprise and crumpled in hurt. It wasn’t pretty. What happened to calling mistakes “careless errors?” That sounds much better, even though he was right. I dragged my feet back to my dorm, depressed.
My biology grades barely surpassed my chemistry one. The school handed out class guides for next semester, so I highlighted classes I would need to follow “The Plan.” I loathed all of them, even just from the three-sentence descriptions in the course catalogue.
The time had come to decide if I was going to stick to “The Plan” as my parents wished, or create a new plan in my first ever act of independent rebellion. I constantly felt worse than everyone else, and worse than I knew myself to be. I had zero drive for my goals in my science classes. I couldn’t complete “The Plan” without any passion leading me forward.
I knew I wanted to hop off the Candyland track. I flipped through the guide until I got to the English classes. The two I had taken this year actually hadn’t made me miserable. They were both so much more interesting than “Intro to Physiology”… and if I could get better grades while enjoying myself, the choice seemed obvious. Abandoning my mother’s plan and changing my major to something that couldn’t always secure a job had me diving into the unknown.
I finally bit the bullet and declared my English major just before leaving in May. I have yet to find out where it will lead me. Maybe, I will end up in a hovel like my parents imagined. But at least I’ll able to recite T.S. Elliot and define Romanticism. I won’t be completely helpless.