Am I Fraud or for Real?

Choosing a major may be one of the most daunting tasks to incoming college students. Society tells us that by the time we finish four years of high school, we should know what we want to do and immediately begin working toward it. But what do you do if you don’t know what you want to do yet?

A lot of people begin community college “undecided.” They take a year to meet general education requirements and a few electives and then choose their major based on that year’s experience.

I did the exact opposite. My first four semesters at Diablo Valley College were riddled with random classes I thought I might enjoy. I took no general education classes and instead jumped right into figuring out what I thought might interest me. This is a recurring theme in my life — I was never confident in what I was doing so instead of sticking with one subject and advancing in it, I tried bits and pieces of it all: basketball, soccer, softball, tennis, hockey, clarinet, guitar, drums. I couldn’t decide, so I always felt like I was starting over and over again with each new interest. This was fun for a while until it began to feel like I would never stick with anything.

When I began college, I thought I was sure of my passion in life: Psychology. But my inner adventurer was not yet done exploring. My first few years of college did not go well, thanks to this inner voice that told me the next classroom over was having a much better time than the one I was in. My major flip-flopped from Psychology to Music to Addiction Studies and back to Music until I decided last semester that my new major would be Journalism (without having ever taken a Journalism class). It wasn’t until about a month ago when I started my second Journalism class in my sixth semester (now at LMC) that I think I may have finally grown out of that ‘jumping from lily pad to lily pad’ stage of my life.

In a recent interview on NPR, Tom Hanks described what it feels like to choose a career and stick with it.

“No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?” Hanks said.

Finding out that my passion truly is Journalism and that it is something I want to pursue is almost more terrifying than when I didn’t know what I wanted. It now means I have no more excuses to take random classes that I don’t need; it means that I now have to get to work and not mess around. It also means that if I want it as badly as I do, that when I fail tasks along the way, as everyone working toward what they want inevitably does, it will feel significantly more discouraging.

I do have moments when I am writing an article or interviewing a source and I find myself doubting that I have the right to be there. I think exactly what Hanks described, “When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud?”

But something my mom told me comforts me in these times of hesitation. She would tell me that yes, I will probably always be curious about what everyone else is doing with their lives. I might always have doubts that what I am doing with my life may not be the right choice. I might always have moments of feeling like I am not the right person to be doing the job I am doing.

But she told me that it’s okay to have those thoughts, as long as I am working toward something, as long as I continue going to classes and completing them. As long as I don’t completely quit and decide nothing is worth the time anymore. If I just trek on, eventually it will become less scary and, even if I end up realizing down the road that this career is not what fits, at least I will have had that experience and the credentials to move onto something new. At least I will have tried my best in one area in order to know that I may need to try again in another.