I remember right before calling my mom, I was pacing under the shade of the psychology building while practicing what I was going to say to her in my head. The enormous pit in my stomach wasnt helping my thoughts become any clearer. But I finally tapped on her number and, with only a year and a half left of college, I said, “Please don’t get mad, but I think I’m going to switch my major.”
I had wanted to be a physical therapist since I was in middle school. That was the plan. I loved playing sports and taking care of people, so back then it seemed like the dream job. I applied to be a kinesiology major at Sonoma State University and in the spring of 2014, I was accepted. I loved my classes and learning about the mechanisms of the body, but something was missing. At my physical therapy summer internship, I was way more interested in talking about the psychological repercussions of a patient’s injury versus the actual injury itself. I took a psychology class that winter and I realized what I was missing in all my kinesiology classes; what was missing from my dream career. The mind. After that class, and some other life events I was experiencing at the time, I couldn’t get enough of mental health. I was itching to understand how the mind and the body influence and interact with one another, and I wasn’t getting that fix from my current major. My heart was calling in something different. It was calling for a change that I was too scared to make…
I had a decision to make. Settle for the major I was in or leap into the unknown of a new adventure. Mind you, I had a clear path with kinesiology. Finish with my degree, complete my hours at the physical therapy internship, go to graduate school, and become a physical therapist. Boom. Done. Psychology on the other hand, I had no idea what waited for me on the other side of that fence. I didn’t know if I’d continue with graduate school, what that even meant, or what career I wanted to pursue. All I knew was that every time I stepped foot into my psych classes, I was feeding my soul. So do I stick with the safe plan or follow my gut?
Judging by the first paragraph, I think you can guess which direction I chose. In the end, I chose me. Was my mom excited at first? Heck no. I came out of the blue with this new life change and totally blindsided my parents. However, I am so fortunate that she and my dad were supportive regardless of their uncertainty. But I needed to do this for me.
Flash forward to 2020 and I did graduate on time with my BA in Psychology, I graduated with a certification from the University of California, Irvine in Psychological Sciences, and I survived a round of graduate school applications for PhD programs in Clinical Psychology. Not to toot my own horn, but I thrived in the psychology field and it wasn’t a result of “talent” or “greatness.” It’s because I truly cared and still very much do. It is one of my greatest passions. But if I had let fear overcome my ability to follow my intuition, I’d probably be settling for a position somewhere watching others live out their dreams.
You know what’s even more terrifying than taking a risk? Than failing? Regret.
We are so afraid of what others might think (like me pacing before calling my mom) or of failing that we are willing to settle for safety rather than leaning into the novelties our heart is calling in. Sometimes it’s also because we don’t think we deserve more or we don’t think we’re capable. But who decided you don’t deserve more? Who decided you’re not capable? You’re the one who gets to make those decisions about yourself, not others.
Every person is full of unlimited potential and we all deserve to tap into it. Lean into your authenticity and through that, bare the world gifts that only your individuality can offer. Your authenticity will attract people that believe in you, but it starts with you believing in you.
Please, don’t stay at that mediocre job. Don’t stay in that dead-end relationship. Don't stay in that unfulfilling major. Don’t repress your you-ness. Lean into your intuition, take the risk, leap into the unknown and relinquish your light and let it shine on the world. It would be the greatest gift you give yourself and others.