Ever since I was a child I’ve loved making art. When I was younger, no one ever told me that art and design was something I could actually pursue as a serious profession. Now looking back on my college career, I wish I’d had the courage to pursue art in a more serious manner, and had not been afraid to follow a different path at Penn.
Struggling with your identity and passions is a totally normal part of the college experience, and even the people that seem to have everything figured out can be unsure of themselves! I want to let younger girls know that it doesn’t matter what you think you should study, you should follow your dreams and do what truly makes you happy!
One of my favorite classes I took at Penn was Positive Psychology, and some of the best advice I learned was to not be afraid to fall in love with something. After reading several anecdotes about people that switched their careers to follow their passions, there were generally four key takeaways:
- Don’t be afraid to fall in love with something and pursue it with intensity and depth.
- Know, understand, take pride in, practice, develop, use, exploit, and enjoy your greatest strengths.
- Learn to free yourself from the expectations of others and to walk away from the games that others try to impose upon you. Free yourself to “play your own game” in such a way as to make good use of your gifts. Search out and cultivate great teachers or mentors who will help you accomplish these things.
- Don’t waste a lot of expensive energy in trying to do things for which you have little ability or love. Do what you can do well and what you love, giving freely of the infinity of your greatest strengths and most intense loves. (Cite: Paul Torrance, The Importance of Falling in Love With Something)
College can provide you with many challenges, but despite it being a continuous rollercoaster, you will end up figuring out what interests you academically and professionally. Even if you end up taking classes you dislike, or switch your major a few times, at least you will learn what you do not like.
Following the above points will certainly help you find the courage to pursue your dream no matter what it might be. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not smart enough, strong enough, or good enough, because if you really care about something and give it your all, you can accomplish amazing things in life.
Morgan McKeever is from San Francisco and is studying Communications and Consumer Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her hobbies include photography, graphic design, volleyball and traveling.