By Sam Campbell
At 21 years old, I am finally preparing to enter my senior year of college. The past three years have been both long and quick, full of finding out who and what really take priority in this life. I often think about how surprising my current life has been to me, and how I wish I could go back and give my freshman self a pat on the head and a few tips that would save her from many sleepless nights. If I really could do that, this is what I’d say:
- You will change your major, and that’s okay.
For the people who have never changed their career goals, I hold equal amounts of admiration and disbelief. For the rest of you, not being sure of what you want to do with the rest of your life when you have only lived a quarter of it is completely natural. I’ve switched between five very different majors during my college career, and considered several more. Each time I made a switch, I thought I had failed somehow; however, looking back, I am extremely thankful for what I learned in each field. Cliché as it may sound, each change made me who I am today.
As much as it is a gift to know exactly what you want to do with your life, it is a blessing to change your mind and adjust to your growth spurts. You never know where such change will take you. It could be better than you ever dreamed, or it could be a mistake; but nothing, nothing is wasted. I can point to so many incredible things that have happened in my life as a result of each time I changed my major—one of them being meeting the man who is now my husband—and very few of them have anything to do with my career. There is a lot more to life than school and work.
- Relationships are important. Nurture the good, end the bad.
I have a hero complex, as a lot of people do, and as a result I have spent many years trying to save relationships that were not meant to continue. In our culture of smiling “#bestieselfies” and the widespread fear of being alone, we often insist on remaining closely tied to people who we do not enjoy or get along with, who consistently hurt us, and/or with whom we have mutually draining relationships. Every area of life is harmed by such toxicity. Do not believe yourself to be the hero who should sustain someone else’s happiness; instead, nurture healthy, mutually encouraging relationships that are life-giving to everyone involved.
- Adjustment is as necessary as achievement.
Your major won’t be the only thing you will need to adjust as you grow and learn more about the person you are uniquely designed to be. Without warning, your priorities will change, and that’s not a bad thing. You may become more introverted or extroverted, discover a new passion, develop a new skill, start a new relationship, or all of the above. Don’t believe the lie that you are a failure or a disappointment just because you are different than who you or other people hoped you’d be. Work diligently to achieve your goals, but also adjust your goals to fit your unique personality, passions and gifts.
- You don’t know what will happen until it happens.
Until the day my husband and I started “talking,” I was convinced I would never meet someone who would choose me. Until the day my dad needed surgery, that wasn’t a concern in my life. Until I met my best friends, until I struggled with anxiety, until I visited my church, until I tried coffee, I never knew what a huge part each of those would play in my life. Nothing happens until it happens. Don’t live in fear; just live.
- Life does not end or begin after college.
There are no finish lines in life. As a young(er) adult, I believed once I finished college, my time to grow, mess up and have fun would be over. This caused a lot of anxiety for me as I tried to pack all of my opportunities to be human into four very short years. At the same time, I believed I couldn’t start the bigger, more “adult” things in life—career, family, etc—until I had graduated, which is equally false. You do not have to wait until a certain mile-marker to live your calling. Life is happening now.
Sam Campbell, 21 and newlywed, is a writer, musician and full-time Mass Communications student at a small-town university. She loves all things Switchfoot and Ben Rector, grew up with llamas as pets, and coffeeshops are her happy place. Sam is passionate about social justice and dedicated to fighting in the movement against human trafficking.