It’s Okay Not to Know

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It’s Okay Not to Know

I graduated from high school in 2020, during the pandemic’s beginning. How my senior year ended was not something anyone could have expected, and it was nothing anyone could control, but I tried to make the most of it. The pandemic hit, and the entire world changed. There was little in-person contact, and we were forced to isolate ourselves.

Being in the MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) Youth Scholar program gave me many options for my career (so many that I could not decide what I wanted to do). I took part in the NSLC (National Student Leadership Conference). I went to Philadelphia for a vet program and realized that it was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. After this, I was confused. I had been so sure it was something I wanted to do until I shadowed an emergency room nurse practitioner. Then I decided that I wanted to be an emergency room nurse practitioner. I thought I could do that for the rest of my life.

I started my first year of college while COVID was still in full force, and I was still sure I wanted to be a nurse. All classes were online, and being a student at home was neither ideal nor my choice. I wanted the whole college experience. I wanted to live on campus, have a roommate, and be in a classroom setting. Unfortunately, the first year of college was far from normal. I took some general education and nursing classes, but something felt a little off. Going into the fall semester of my sophomore year, I did dorm, but I was in a single room alone.

Life eventually got in the way of school, and I struggled to keep myself motivated. I had moments when I thought I could not do it anymore. I doubted everything at this point, and I was completely burnt out. I was taking in-person classes (with some still online), living on campus in my dorm, and learning basic nursing skills. The semester was ending, and I was still deciding if I wanted to continue with nursing. During the first year and a half of classes, I always had doubts, but I did not listen to them until it physically made me ill. Then I realized I was not passionate about nursing; I knew it would make my family proud. I was not becoming a nurse for myself; I was becoming a nurse for my family. That’s when I knew I could not continue with nursing. Doing something I knew would not bring me any joy in the future was not something I could continue doing. Then, I talked to my advisor and changed my major to “undeclared” because I didn’t know what I would do if it were not nursing. I had been so sure I wanted to be a nurse that I did not have a backup plan.

Although I did not know what my next step would be, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe again. When I returned spring semester, I decided to move back home and commute to school. I did some research while on winter break and learned about the Healthcare Studies major Salem State offered. I knew I did not want to be a nurse, but still wanted to work in a hospital. I started the spring semester of my sophomore year by taking the required classes for the Healthcare Studies major. After seeing the career opportunities for a Healthcare major, I decided that is what I would do.

As I prepare for my senior year, I am still unsure what I want to do, but if there is anything I learned over these past three years, it is okay not to know. It is okay to feel lost, not to know your next step, and if you do not graduate in the year you had hoped for. I have had a strong support system throughout these years, my ACE (Accelerated College Experiences) Coach Lorita Williams being one of them. I could count on her to guide me through my decisions and push me to advocate for myself. I never thought I would use the Four ACE pillars (self-direct, self-manage, self-correct, and self-advocate), but they came in handy, and I unknowingly used them to get where I am today. Everyone has their own unique journey through college. Sometimes, life gets in the way, unexpected things happen, and your motivation may get blurry, but the important thing is never to give up. No matter how long it takes to figure it out, you eventually will.

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