As cliché as it may sound, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during the course of my time in college so far, it’s that this really is a time of self-discovery. If you had told the straight across bangs-sporting, ballet dancing, high school version of myself that once I went to university, I would quit ballet, start running, drastically change my diet a few times, wear some weird outfits (which make me cringe just thinking about them), and, just days before the second semester of my junior year is to begin, change my major, I would have never believed you. Alas, that is what’s happened. I favor running tights over pink, mesh Capezios now. The products of food science terrify me, so I eat plants instead. And, as of Friday, January 11, 2013, at around noon, I am no longer a dietetics major double-minoring in chemistry and biology. Rather, I am now a biology major, single-minoring in chemistry.
My winter break was pretty weird, thank you. It all began with a trip down memory lane that left me sad, confused, and more emotional than usual (I blame the influx of white sugar in my system for these feelings, however, due to too many holiday treats, but whatever.). After my finals, I drove back home to watch my old ballet school perform “The Nutcracker” as is done every other year. My old friend Lauren, who’s a senior this year, was dancing the lead of Sugar Plum, as I had my junior year in high school. As soon as she got out there, I burst into tears for unknown reasons. After the show, I continued to cry and hug her, like an insane member of her fan club or something. For some reason, anytime I thought about the show during the following weeks, my stomach began to churn. I lost my appetite, and almost lost my stomach contents as well on more occasions than I care to recall. I cried. And I couldn’t understand why.
I quit ballet my freshman year in college. There was this tiny voice in my head asking me, ““Hey Carly, do you really want to spend three days a week in a leotard surrounded by skinny twelve-year-olds who can fouette circles around you when you’re supposed to be a mature college student?” I was at one of the most prestigious ballet schools in St. Louis, and, because I wasn’t as good as the other dancers, was placed in, I kid you not, the twelve-year-old level. (They’re THAT good.) Something wasn’t right though. I wasn’t happy. I wanted to skip class. I wanted so desperately to move on with my life. So, feeling scared, I took the leap and left.
Fast-forward to my junior-year self, happy with my decision to leave ballet. I loved to run! I loved to bike! I loved food! I was a spectroscopy superstar (don’t be jealous)! Oh, what fun it is to discover your true self! But things weren’t all perfect. The little voice inside my head was back, as I worked on my dietetics homework. As I met with a partner for a group project. As I thought about the upcoming semester and the dietetics classes that I would be taking that I was secretly dreading. “Hey Carly, don’t you think you’d be better off doing something else?”
So over Christmas break, I began flirting with the voice yet again. It tempted me: “You quit ballet, and look at all of the good things that resulted. If you quit your major, who knows what good would result?” The voice hadn’t led me astray the first time, I reasoned, so why should I doubt its wisdom in this case? So, that Friday, I made the leap. Friday night a different voice led me to send a panicky email at midnight to my old advisor (titled “SOS” and marked with the urgent red exclamation mark…I was so not going to regret that message…) telling her I had made a mistake and, could I please come back to the dietetics department? But then, after days of crying and worrying, I’ve come up with an awesome list of all the things I’m passionate about and all of the dreams I hope to pursue as a professional someday. And I know that once again, the voice has led me back down the right path.
So. I’ve learned over the past five to seven weeks or so that it’s okay to question your path. I spent weeks feeling depressed about the fact that my time as a ballerina is over. I could go back to dancing, yeah, but I don’t want to, really. I love to run and I love to do yoga and bike. I’ve also learned that, while it may not be apparent at first, once the stress of making a major decision clears, things do begin to fall into place, and you become the person you’re really meant to be. I may have been worried at first about becoming a biology major once and for all, but now I feel really, really good about it. I can’t wait to see what adventures the semester brings! I can’t wait to see who I can become and the things I can do! I trust myself now. As one of my most favorite Thoreau quotes goes:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”
I have a feeling that the life I’ve imagined is getting closer with each risk I take…
Welcome back and happy New Year, everyone.
“All Figured Out” by: Tanlines