The Path Less Travelled

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While it was not an easy choice to make, switching faculties has been one of the best decisions I've made. 

I spent the first year and a half of my undergrad in the faculty of commerce. Many of my friends struggled in first year too, and so for a long time I was able to squash down my discontent by telling myself that it's not easy for anyone, and that things would get better when I started my specialization in third year. It was hard to accept that something I had worked so hard for (getting and staying in commerce) may not be the best thing for me.

Please note that I think the field of commerce is valuable and I do not regret my time in the program, as my experience in commerce made me sure of my choice to pursue a degree in sociology. For me, the attitude I felt many of my peers held (that the goal of getting a degree is to get a job and make money) did not align with my own (that the goal of getting a degree is primarily to become educated and to experience the field of academia). I struggled throughout my time in commerce with how much I disliked what I was learning, and how disconnected I felt with the culture of the faculty. I felt stuck. If I stayed in commerce I would be following through on my commitment, but I would be deeply unhappy. If I transferred to arts I would be learning what I cared about, but I would be seen as a quitter. The summer between first and second year was extremely difficult for me. I was taking summer classes, and I felt more alone than I had ever before. Not only was I lacking in social connections (as many of my friends were not around), but I also had no motivation as I both hated and was struggling to get by in the commerce class I was taking.

I knew from my first Intro to Sociology lecture that it is something I am passionate about. While I know that the amounts of work and dedication necessary to succeed in each faculty are incomparable, I am well aware of the judgements often made against arts students. I have felt shame because of this. I still feel out of place when I go into Sauder, and it isn't always easy to ignore that I am no longer a part of that prideful, tight-knit community. But I also have felt pride in proving to myself that I am capable of doing what is best for me, despite what others may think. 

It took me months to gain the courage to do something about what I knew was making me unhappy. I was scared of losing the friends I had made in commerce, of being judged for “not being able to handle Sauder”, and (most of all) of feeling like I had failed. However, the moment I made the decision to transfer I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders, and was instantaneously excited about learning again. While I have not loved every class I’ve taken since transferring, I am sure that I am now doing what is right for me.

It sounds cheesy, but there is a fine line between doing what you have to do to get where you want in life, and following a path that isn't right for you. I think the first step is to try to define what success means to you, and what you want to be able to say you've accomplished at the end of your life. Then, work towards getting yourself there, in a way that will give you the best chances of growing to become who you strive to be.