Even though I am currently a Graduate student, I always hated school before college. Responsibility was (and still is) a great stressor for me, mostly because I struggle with self-confidence. Just the thought of college made me cringe with insecurity. I never felt particularly intelligent throughout my childhood, regardless of what other people told me. I think that this was a result of being held back in 4th grade, but this was simply because I did not attend class, not that I was not intelligent enough. This always stuck with me as a child that I was not as advanced as everyone else was in my grade. Though I did well in high school, I did not really plan on pursuing a higher education. However, my mother wanted me to have more opportunities with a career, and even though I am grateful for her pushing me to go to college, I can also see that I was not mentally ready for it.
In my senior years of high school, I was told many misconceptions that people seemed to believe about life as an English major. My advisor emphasized that being a writer is very difficult, so I should consider waitressing on the side. Also, my mother believed that just being an English major did not give job security; becoming a teacher was a better idea. My love for literature grew during my last years of high school, but I always had a passion for writing. I knew that, if I ever would go to college, majoring in English would be the only way that I could graduate. On top of my own insecurities, I was met with uncertainty regarding my choice of major from others. Needless to say, I internalized this uncertainty from such seemingly reliable sources.
Throughout college, I tried to pursue teaching to appease my advisor and my mother, but I felt no real connection with this career. I was putting a lot of time and effort into doing class observations on top of going to class, but I wondered why I was planning to spend the rest of my life in a school when I hated it so much in the past. Why should I waste time, money, and energy into becoming something that I do not feel that I should be? I imagined myself living my life according to what other people want from me, and I simply could not live like this. Not only would I be risking my own unhappiness, but I would not be utilizing my education to the fullest.
So, I mustered up the courage to say, “I’m going to do what I want to do.” This involved a great amount of advice from friends and family because I feared what my mother would say. I imagined her utter disappointment and disbelief in my choice, but I had to trust that this should not dictate my choices in life. Essentially, I gained self-respect by putting things in perspective that this is my life, my education, and my future. It is neither my mother nor my high school advisor who has to live my life: I do.
My college career involved many tears, a lot of stress, and a large amount of doubt, but all of this gave me the opportunity to prove to myself that I am more than what other people say that I can be. Most of all, I am more than what I tell myself that I can be. I thoroughly enjoy reading, writing, sharing ideas, and tutoring as an English major, but I limited myself to other people’s expectations for years. This is so unfair for anyone to go through. A student who is entering college should feel free to do what he or she wants to do. It is important to ignore any discouraging voices because those voices could be stifling great potential: I received my bachelor’s in English with nearly a 4.0 GPA at St. Joseph’s College. Most importantly, it was not until I felt confident in my own capabilities that I was able to be content with my choices in life. I can honestly say that as my graduate career slowly comes to a close, I am happy with my academic choices. I look forward to where my education will take me, and that is what school is for.
Written by: Gabby Muniz