Four years ago, I chose my major based on a romanticized image. You see, I wanted to be like the cool scientists who dedicate their lives to saving humankind from impending doom. Like a protagonist in a dystopic future.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I figured that I hated everything about working in labs. The mind-numbing repetitive work and the 3AMs figuring why your specimens are dying, are probably not for me. The struggle is real with Maths and Physics too. Triple Integration? Pfft… Biomechanics? I can’t even…

There were many times when I felt like school limited my growth instead of nurturing it. It was frustrating and stressful. Switching majors was always on my mind, but I was never ready to take the leap. So to all of you still in school, tempted with the idea of pursuing a different degree but just can’t switch or drop out for whatever reason, I’ve written this to share my own experience. It wasn’t easy, but you will gain something out of your journey, promise. Here’s how I got through my uni days.


I Took It As A Challenge.

Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard. (Okay, I had to throw in this reference). I know it is tough not to feel pessimistic when you can’t seem to find the slightest joy in what you are doing. But first, free yourself of all that negativity. Then, see the climb in front of you as a challenge. There’s something so empowering about overcoming a challenge. It motivated me to finish what I started. I took each challenge that I overcame as a personal little victory. And victory is addictive.


I Studied For The Knowledge.

To quote Ken Robinson, ‘Curiosity is the engine of achievement’. Look at the world like you did when you were a kid – with wonder. A wise friend once told me to stop focusing on grades and exams and learn for the sake of discovering new stuff. Trust me, it does work. I won’t lie and say you’ll magically understand everything, but the concepts will get much more fascinating. This is also probably why I still geek out when new science videos come out on YouTube.

Quick tip: YouTube videos make stuff easier to understand than my some of my lectures. (PatrickJMT is the only reason I passed engineering math). Look out for other ways to make learning enjoyable, instead of drowning in sorrow and your lecture notes.


I Reminded Myself Of Other Things I Can Gain.

You may feel like you are wasting your time. That’s understandable. On the surface, it feels like you can’t get anything out of this degree, but dig deep. Take heart in the fact that you are gaining valuable skills along the way. Many times, the benefits are much more abstract, but still significant. Maybe it’s developing your analytical skills, or improving your communication skills – whatever they are, those skills will come in handy when you least expect it.


I Focused On Honing Other Skills I Love.

Take every opportunity you get to do what you love in your curriculum. For example in projects, I gladly pick words over numbers, designing stuff over computing and presentations over papers. So I took extra pride in designing slide decks and writing reports (as for the technical parts, my Einstein friends got them covered). I also took electives related to communication and marketing. It was refreshing to meet people who are as particular as you are in finding the right shade of blue, or the most fitting font to use. So go take classes outside of school, read related books, meet people who share the same passion you have for photography – do what it takes to give yourself a well-deserved break.


I Kept Supportive Friends By My Side

Through all the highs and lows of ploughing through the difficult times, true friends will always be by your side. Find your crew and spend time building quality squad members that will have each other’s back whenever, wherever. I’ve met some true gems that made my days in school much brighter. Even after graduation, they still motivate me to chase my dreams and pursue my idea of fulfillment.


It wasn’t easy, but it will be worth it. Maybe someday my love for science will be rekindled, and maybe someday I will figure a way to combine my passions. But until then, I won’t let my degree define me, and you shouldn’t too.

Zenna Firdous
Zenna Firdous
Her cause of death will probably read: 'Caffeine' (and maybe one too many slices of cake). But for now, she enjoys traipsing around the streets of the world, crafting and taking pretty pictures for her Instagram profile.
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