'On edge'

On December 5, 2013

"On edge" was the impression my senior editor had of me when I first started writing for The Spectrum.

And to be honest, that's the kind of idea a lot of people have about me. Personally, I view myself as someone who just seems to freak out, but I really have everything under control.

So when I switched this semester from environmental engineering to environmental studies and finally joined The Spectrum - because someone asked me, "Why not?" - control didn't seem attainable.

It isn't that I am a person who needs to have everything planned out. If anything, this feeling felt familiar.

I've switched majors a handful of times, and as someone who tends to worry a lot about my decisions, you would think I wouldn't want to subject myself to that amount of anxiety.

What I struggled with is most likely what the majority of college students went through ever since the term "college application" came around. I'm not a special case. I'm not an extreme success story where I found the meaning to my life when I switched. I'm still pondering and just guessing at what I want to do, but at least I can do that with something I am passionate about now.

My first love was the viola. After dedicating almost six days a week for seven years to the instrument, I had to give it up for fear of falling behind in engineering. I felt like I had broken ties with a huge chapter of my past. But I told myself to just carry on.

School was the focus now.

I didn't realize it then, but I had made my first mistake. I was creating the idea that being practical meant removing things that weren't going to be a part of my career.

I entered freshman year as an environmental engineering major. That spring semester, I switched over to computer science with a plan to minor in cognitive science. Thoughts of becoming a therapist or neuroscientist began to fill my mind until the unsettling feeling of discontent crept in again.

I weighed the opportunities of being an engineer again and decided to give my first major another chance. One entire school year later, my anxiety was getting worse. Engineering didn't pique my interest, but something in the major attracted me to it in the first place.

I took this past summer to really think about what I wanted to do for the future.

But then I realized I don't need a plan. At least not yet.

I had something I was interested in and I decided to run with it.

Writing for The Spectrum has given me some kind of direction. Besides giving me a chance to write, I've learned one way I can make a difference with the awareness I've gained from environmental studies.

I've entertained the idea of becoming an environmental journalist and it sounds appealing. The only thing holding me back is whether I am capable. It sounds kind of silly, considering if I really wanted to educate the world on environmental issues, I'd just go for it.

College is supposedly where most people will find the path to their goals. Though that may be true for myself and many others, I think it is important to note that we don't have to be completely sure of the future.

As time goes on, I hear more and more people saying change is the most important part of life. And we can't always know what is going to happen, and they say it is perfectly fine. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I've always felt, "No, it isn't fine."

Maybe it's the anxiety talking. Maybe I'm too pessimistic. The problem is that everyone tells us it's going to be fine. But it's not possible to tell a worrier that everything will be 'fine' without telling us how it's going to be 'OK.'

Even as someone who seems "on edge" for most of the time, I've chosen passion over job security. My attitude is that if I don't choose to become a journalist, my life is no longer in peril because I am unsure of my future.

My life is, in fact, wide open, and I've realized that I am right on the edge of it all.


email: amanda.low@ubspectrum.com

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