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Finding Your Identity in the Academic World

Finding Your Identity in the Academic World

By Ari

Coming to university, I had decided on goals that I set in stone. Which now really seems like an interesting approach to have as a first year in a completely new environment...

Sitting in an Intro to Sociology course, I was ecstatic listening to all these ideas and insights into systemic issues. The ideas I had never thought would be vocalized were being spoken about openly in the lecture hall. Topics I had always felt passionate about learning – racialization and its impacts, LGBTQ+ movements throughout the decades, the climate movement, etc. Even still, at some point, later in the semester, I was quite demotivated and started questioning if this was the right career path for me.

women with book on her face

Despite finding a space where I could express myself fully and hear others do the same, it was still quite overwhelming. It felt like there were so many other things I could be doing, so many areas to explore that I would not have the chance to. There was a fear that I might be making the wrong decision. When I was doing a constant back-and forth between sticking with it or going with something else, at no point did it occur to me that I had the option to slow down and take some time to ruminate. Why did I feel this sense of urgency?

Well, I didn’t realize how it contributed to so much of my identity. While it really was not a do-or-die situation, it felt like one, because my career was shaped, or heavily influenced by this decision. I often fall victim to intense patterns of overthinking and asked myself a lot of questions while I was in this maddening limbo. However, I was able to get out of it once I asked myself some questions that I found particularly helpful:

Can I remember why I felt passionate about this major at the beginning of the year, and do I still feel that way?

If I decide to make this change now, how does it affect the rest of my years at university and would it be worthwhile?

Sometimes it feels like we have so much responsibility on our shoulders, to decide exactly what we must do at a specific time. You may find that a lot of people don’t stick with their initial choice, and end up doing something completely different, either way - it can still be as meaningful. Something I have learned is that change is constant, so if 8 years down the line I’m doing something different, that’s okay. I can embrace that idea and move forward. There is so much space for growth. In the same way, if you ever find yourself struggling with a decision, there are so many people around you who you can reach out to, so many resources available that are dedicated to helping you figure out what steps you can take next. I have learned that decisions like this don’t have to be terrifying and difficult, which has been very relieving.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I just want to say, you’re not alone in this. If it’s weighing on you, take a breath, explore your options and reach out. You’ve got this!

Hi! I’m Ari. I’m a Sociology major going into my 2nd year in the fall. I have always loved reading, and I enjoy dissecting ideas in written form, so I thought it would be fun to share some of my thoughts in this way. Outside of classes, I like discovering new kinds of music and finding cute spots downtown!