There’s this girl who joined BruinLife yearbook this quarter – her name is Kelsey. She’s a first-year civil engineering student, minoring in applied math. And she knows exactly what she’s doing.
After our fifth edit night yesterday, she stayed in the office with us afterward, just chatting about herself. She told us about how she spends a lot of time with Triangle frat, because contrary to popular stereotypes, they’re actually really cool, not just intellectually extreme. Sure, they play chess on Friday nights, but just like any other frat, most other nights are spent playing beer pong. But that’s not what I was going to talk about. Tushar, one of four seniors on our staff, pointed out to her that she dispelled what for him was the idea of a typical south-campus engineering female student. She was outgoing, knew how to have fun, and didn’t seem to study too much for her own good. She didn’t seem like an engineer, he said. But a few minutes into any conversation with her, I think, would clearly define her as someone who’s not only motivated in just the right ways, but someone smart enough to succeed in the industry, despite the competition of being, well, an engineer.
And I noticed her talking about how she’s so glad to be doing what she’s doing, and I questioned myself. Am I really cut out for this? Am I really ready to take on engineering? I’m a second-year mechanical engineering student at UCLA, and I’ve barely gotten my feet wet in the field. I’m halfway through my first upper-division mechanical engineering class, and I don’t think my grade is even close to passing. The concepts lectured on in class don’t seem to be too difficult to understand, but then homework, quizzes, and midterms roll around and I realize I have no idea what I’m doing. Three weeks was enough for me to start considering changing my major to materials science and engineering, but then, what do you know, I take a quiz and place around 60th in a class of 70. Dream number two: shot down in a jiffy. Around the same time I decided to email the fine arts department, ask them what it would take to transfer. Not much, actually, just a 8-to-10 piece portfolio and an application due every fourth week of each quarter. But honestly, even that’s too far-fetched of a goal for me to handle. It’s ridiculous – I already know that art makes me happy, and yet something this close is still too far away. I can see the bigger picture (read: my happiness) but I’m not sure how to get there. I wish I could just be in the future already, because I’m tired of not being content, and then complaining about it.
Changing majors isn’t out of the question. It would be worth it, if I knew what I wanted to do. There’s a problem, though, in that statement. I don’t know what I want to do. Or maybe, there are too many things I want to do. Either way, I’m stuck in a quandary and I don’t even know which way to face. I wish somebody could point me in the right direction, and that I’d be okay with blindly following. I emailed my high school English teacher last week, telling her that I was confused about what I was studying – whether it was what I wanted to be doing or not. She encouraged me to try things out, because if I didn’t, I’d for sure not know if I liked it. She herself went through three majors before realizing that education was her path. But what about me? Am I going to get the same sort of sudden (or slow, whichever) realization of what I want to be doing? Because this sense of loss is seriously starting to get old.
My dad told me that even if it’s difficult, I shouldn’t give up. Sure, classes may be hard, schoolwork may be challenging, but so too is life. If I ran away now, I’d have nowhere to go. I can feel all the stress weighing me down and it wears me out. I tell myself that I shouldn’t be this tired, I should be better than this. I’m above the trifling hardships of school, and am good enough, prepared enough, for whatever else life has in store for me. But at the same time I can feel myself being weak, and thinking that there’s no way I can get around the gigantic obstacle that is college. All these conflicting opinions dancing around in my mind, and I wish I could just do it. I should be able to, though, because there’s nothing stopping me, right?
Except me. For some reason I’m not aware of, I’m unhappy. Maybe it’s the failure I’m not used to, possibly it’s the workload. It’s not even the future I’m worried about, it’s the present. How do I know if I’m just supposed to suck it up and deal, or if it’s too much for me to handle?
I really, really don’t know.