Notes From an Average Girl | Growing up sucks

Notes from an Average Girl is a biweekly, relatable blog about navigating college life.

By Madeline Milchman, For The Pitt News

Recently, I’ve found myself reminiscing about the days I’d dart off the school bus, eager to lounge on my couch and watch “Sam & Cat.” Not that many of my ambitions have changed. I now dart home from class eager to binge “New Girl,” the sophisticated, grown-up version of “Sam & Cat.”

But, there is a reason for my nostalgia — I long for the days when my impending future didn’t take control of my thoughts at all hours of the day.

Like most college students, I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’m an undeclared major, but I have never felt comfortable with that vagueness. It also doesn’t help that my indecision seems to make everyone else uncomfortable or nervous for me. When someone asks my major and I reply “undeclared,” the conversation usually goes the same.

First, they suggest common majors I could choose, as if the thought had never crossed my mind. “What about psychology? Or public health?” they say, implying that I should choose any major because something is better than nothing.

Thus, I’m forced to respond, “I’m more interested in humanities. I’ll probably do communications or something.” And suddenly, they’re satisfied because I’ve chosen something, just to shut them up. In reality, I’m still as unsure as when the conversation began.

Proud that they’ve coerced me closer to a decision, they’ll say, “You have time to figure it out”. But the patronizing nature of the conversation leaves me questioning, “Do I?

The urgency I feel to decide my future is frustrating, but what I’m starting to realize is that I’d rather the frustration of not knowing than the fear of failing.

For the past 19 years of my life, phrases like “I don’t know,” “I have time,” “maybe writing” and “probably communications” have defined my future. I could list potential majors, but actually committing to one was difficult. I went through four different academic advisors and still came out decision-less.

Now, I’m getting closer to declaring a major in media and professional communications, and I have a job that could help me pursue a career in something I love. Yet I’m even more scared and confused than I was before.

When I got a job writing for The Pitt News, everyone close to me was really proud. I could imagine them thinking “She’s figuring her life out!” Even I was thinking it. But the more I started to ponder it, the more hesitant I became. My brain swarmed with questions.

Is this where my life starts?

Do I really want a career in this field?

Am I an adult now?

Am I ready to grow up?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’m excited but even more than that, I’m terrified.

I think my problem originates with the education system. I spent 12 years getting a general education, and then I was expected to decide my entire future and gamble a lot of money to fund it. I use the word “gamble” because I’m paying to get a degree in something that I have no experience with. How am I expected to know if I’ll like it or be good at it? Or if I’ll want to spend the rest of my life doing it?

When I turned 18 and headed off to college, I often heard “The future is yours!” I understand it’s just a saying and a way of wishing luck, but God, I hate it. The vast number of possibilities for my life is not exactly something I want to celebrate. Instead, I want to scream “I do not want the future! Please do not make it mine!”

So yeah, in case I haven’t made it clear, I feel pressured to figure out what I want to do with my life, but even more, I feel pressured to make the right decision.

I wish I could conclude with some solid advice for those of you feeling the same way, but I can’t. The truth is, growing up sucks. I don’t think I’m ready and I don’t know that I ever will be. I long for the way I used to daydream of cookies, American Girl dolls and crushes, rather than questions about my future.

I wish I could be a little kid again, under the comfort of my parent’s guidance. But unfortunately, that’s not possible, so I’m here to tell you that if you’re feeling the same way, if you’re asking yourself the same questions, you are not alone. We’ll figure it out eventually… hopefully.

Madi Milchman writes about the struggles of growing up. You can reach her at [email protected].