Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Minor Details

On Sunday I bid a sad farewell to my math minor.  After going back and forth for days about what to do about my courses this semester I finally came to a set decision.  My math course just had to go.  Dropping it meant I would not be able to fulfill the requirements for a math minor before graduation, but it also meant not taking six courses this semester/preserving at least some degree of sanity.

The thinking process I went through to get to my decision varied.  There were moments of panic and irrationality where I questioned just what kind of impact not having a math minor would have on my life.  Some thoughts I had were, "WHAT IF I CAN NEVER GET A JOB WITHOUT IT?!?", "WHAT IF I DECIDE I ACTUALLY DO WANT TO GO TO GRAD SCHOOL (I don't want to go, I mean, I really don't want to go) AND THEY WON'T ADMIT ME?!?", "WHAT IF THIS MEANS I'LL BECOME A LONELY OLD WOMAN WHOSE ONLY COMPANY IS CATS?!?" - I was not kidding when I said irrational...

And then there was a moment of clarity, dare I say an Oprah-worthy "aha!" moment - on second thought, I don't dare, it's great that Oprah gives away cars and stuff but sometimes she can be a bit much.  Anyways, the point is, I will survive without a math minor.  I will survive, find a job, go to grad school if I end up changing my mind, and hopefully I will not become a crazy old cat lady (I prefer dogs, so really there's a larger chance of me becoming a crazy old dog lady).  I will survive and gosh darnit, I just might thrive!

The stress that came with my decision reminded me of my senior year of high school.  Remember that time when every quiz/test/project/assignment appeared to be the most pivotal event of your life.  College applications and the acceptance/rejection letters that followed really brought out the crazy in people.  One of my teachers senior year gave us this advice, "Girls, just don't stress about it."  Well that's helpful...not.  Another teacher decided to postpone a lecture and share some words of wisdom.  She reassured us that while high school is an important time in one's life, it is certainly not the most important time in one's life.  She sympathized with the stress we were feeling but also reminded us that one assignment would not make or break our academic careers and although rejection letters can be real Debbie-Downers, one acceptance letter is really all you need.  Basically she reminded us that there was more to life than a high school GPA - sometimes at an all-girls Catholic high school, you need to be reminded of the obvious.  Guess whose advice made more of an impact?

So this weekend, when I was contemplating my future, I just tweaked my history teacher's advice and realized that my life will not be solely determined by the minor degree I earn, or fail to earn, during four years in college - as long as I complete my major, right Mom and Dad?  Sure, it would be great if we could all "not stress" but, that's not feasible.  Instead we can choose to step back and take a closer look at what truly matters - hint, it is not your high school GPA.

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