You get four years to figure out what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life.
For the first 18 years of my life, everything had been decided for me. My whole life up until that point consisted of being told what I was supposed to do by my parents and teachers. I never had to make a decision so consequential before, and the thought terrified me.
Now, as an anxious 18-year-old just about to start my first year of college, it was up to me to decide what it is that I want to do for the rest of my life.
I have always loved reading, hearing stories, and telling stories, so looking into a career journalism would have made sense, but I was too scared to even consider it. I was not confident in my writing abilities, and I was terrified of failing when the clock was already ticking so fast.
Instead, I wanted to go into a field that I thought would be easy and keep me as far away from any potential run-ins with failure.
I have always been active, always played sports, so a career in physical therapy seemed like something I might enjoy. I had no idea what a career in physical therapy would entail, nor did I even give it much thought before I told my advisor that it was my new major.
Even after getting that out of the way, I felt no relief. All I was really doing was buying time. I was making a hasty, unadvised decision just so I could put off some of the dread and anxiety that my future was causing me until a later time.
I had a hunch that I had made the wrong decision, but I continued to ignore what my gut was telling me. I believed that everything would fall into place, and that this route that I was about to venture down would bring me the success and happiness that I wanted so badly for my future self.
It was not until my sophomore year that I would have to get deeper into my major and, because of that, I was able to push off the nervousness and the voices in the back of my head telling me this is not what I want to do.
I was still holding out hope that everything would be okay, but the day I signed up for classes, I just had this feeling that this is something I am going to regret in a few months, and of course I did.
Sophomore year came around, despite how much I had hoped that it would not, and all those feelings I thought I had abandoned immediately came rushing back.
As I walked into my first class, an 8 a.m. anatomy class with 200 or so students, I almost instantly feel inferior. When the professor walks up to the podium and asks the nursing majors to raise their hand, then the biological sciences major to raise their hand, then about three or four more majors that were far too complex sounding for me to remember, I knew I had made a mistake. I knew this was not where I belonged.
Despite this severe sense of anxiety and inferiority that I felt just from merely attending a lecture, I still tried to make it work. I figured if I tried hard enough, it would be fine, but I just could not. I was not happy with what I was doing, and I was beginning to feel like I never would be happy.
I started to think that I just was not going to be one of the lucky ones who discovered what it is that they loved to do and were able to make a career out of it.
As terrible and stressed out as I had felt, those first several weeks of classes did not even compare to how I felt when I received my first test grade in Anatomy — a 57. I had never received anything worse than a C, and now, I am getting Fs in the class that is supposed to teach me the basic, fundamental concepts for the career I am supposed to have.
Almost immediately after seeing my grade, I dropped the class. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that I had basically just wasted a semester of my college career because of my inattentive decision a year prior. The clock was beginning to start ticking a whole lot louder and a whole lot faster.
I tried to make the best out of the situation I was in, so I changed my major to undeclared, but I could never shake the feeling of losing valuable time. The classes I was in were essentially meaningless and would not help me get any closer to graduating.
I knew that I was now behind and that I might not be able to graduate in June of 2021. I was trying to look at this situation in the most positive way possible, but at times, it just seemed impossible.
After some of the self pity and anguish settled over, I realized I had to accept what was already done. I needed to find my niche, so I started considering what I was too terrified to do in the first place, journalism. At this point, there was nothing I had to lose, so I went for it.
That following spring semester, I enrolled in a 101 class, and ever since then, I have been pursuing a career in journalism. There has not been a single moment I have regretted my decision. I always had an inclination that this is what I wanted to do, but now I am really doing it, and the excitement and satisfaction that comes from that is unexplainable.
Today, I am a junior journalism major specializing in print. Yes, I may be a bit behind, and yes, I may not be able to graduate on time.
As unfortunate and inconvenient as those things may sound, there is one thing I can say for certain, I love what I am doing. I look forward to going to class every day and being able to study what it is that I am passionate about, and I have not regretted following my gut instinct for one second, even though it took me a while to get there.
Cassie Morrison, 20, has lived in California her entire life. She played soccer most of her youth, but multiple concussions forced her to quit. Her father lived most of his life in Connecticut (despite moving around a bit during his early years), and her mother grew up in Huntington Beach, California.
She said she learned a strong work ethic from her father, who she believes has done everything he possibly could to provide for his family, and she learned to be loving and compassionate from her mother who always puts her loved ones before herself.
Morrison is an introvert with a small circle of people she feels comfortable around. A lot of her life, she struggled with accepting herself and being confident, but as she continues to grow and mature, she has become more comfortable in her own skin.
After high school, she knew she wanted to go somewhere completely out of her little bubble in Southern California. After applying and touring multiple schools, she finally found the one she wanted, the University of Mississippi.