I hear people say, “You must fail in order to succeed,” but I never thought much of it. I mean, why should anyone make failure an option? Why should we make it sound like a good thing? But now, as a senior in college, I live by those words. Picking a college major can get difficult. The school gives you an endless list of subjects, some you might not even know existed. You need to think about topics you enjoy, what your skills include and what you want to pursue a career in. It gets overwhelming.
When I faced this decision, I instantly chose the general business path.
I felt confident and comfortable with my decision. My dad works as a financial advisor, and my mom worked in marketing. I grew up in a business-minded home. My parents always emphasized the versatility and safety of a business degree. This choice, for me, seemed like a no-brainer. My first semester of freshman year schedule consisted of math courses, American government and world geography. I didn’t feel particularly worried. In high school, I always did well in my classes, so I expected my college experience to go the same way. I felt excited to learn all about the business world.
However, as the semester progressed, my interest in my classes declined. I found myself dreading going to lectures. They felt so long and boring. Instead of paying attention to the lesson, I watched the clock, waiting until I could go back to my dorm. Nonetheless, I tried my best in my courses. I turned in all my assignments on time, made passing grades on the quizzes and exams and attended tutoring sessions for the topics I felt unsure about. But still, I felt the fire inside me dimming.
Instead of paying attention to the lesson, I watched the clock, waiting until I could go back to my dorm.
When December came around, I looked forward to the holiday break. But before I could go home, I needed to complete my final exams. The week before the tests, I drank an unhealthy amount of coffee, pulled my first round of academic all-nighters and spent my whole allowance on study packets. I felt confident. After countless hours of studying, I thought I knew the information like the back of my hand. If you asked me, I thought I knew just as much as my professors.
After exams ended, I got a notification on my phone. It read, “MAC1105 Exam Graded.” I swiped it open, and my stomach dropped. I failed the test. This meant I didn’t pass the class. As I checked my other courses, I relived that same failure. I failed all my classes. I started freaking out. I didn’t know what this meant. Would I get kicked out of school? Will my parents ever forgive me?
Needless to say, the thought of going home for break no longer excited me.
The night before the drive home, I sat in my empty dorm room, staring at my phone. I began rehearsing in my dorm bathroom mirror exactly what I would say to my parents. I weighed my options of explanations and decided to go with the classic excuse of, “Everyone failed the exam.” But I knew this would only lead to a lecture about not taking responsibility for my actions. So, I chose to tell the hard truth, I went in underprepared. To my surprise, they didn’t seem that mad. They felt upset, but they assured me it would all work out in the end.
During the holiday break, I took the time to think. I couldn’t figure out how I managed to do so terribly. After some soul searching, I decided that business may not work out for me. I needed a change. I started to write down subjects I enjoyed studying and my passions. Then, the lightbulb went off in my brain.
I always loved writing, so I looked into journalism.
I quickly grabbed my laptop and started typing into Google: “FSU journalism major.” I clicked the first link, and it took me to a page titled “Editing, Writing and Media.” As I read on and did more research, I realized I needed to study this. As I came to this realization, a wave of calmness and excitement washed over me. I finally felt sure of what I should do in life.
I discussed it with my parents. They told me that picking a college major sometimes requires a trial-and-error process that includes changes. They felt hopeful for me. The switch from business to editing, writing and media turned out as one of the best decisions for me. I achieve good grades because I’m genuinely interested in the information. The change in major gave me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone and pursue opportunities that will benefit me in my future career.
I discovered my passions because I failed my first semester. I’m not saying you need to fail all your classes to find your purpose, but I do believe that in order to learn you must fail in something. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned now, I look at it as an opportunity to grow. I remember that, sometimes, you must fail in order to succeed.