By Aayana Anand, Blog Staff
Entering my first year of college, while I was nervous about losing the normalcy of my life for the past 18 years, I was even more so excited to create new normalcy: I felt like I had been waiting my entire high school career to finally get the independence I’d been craving, alongside new friends and a major I loved. I felt like I was finally about to experience the euphoric, excitingly numbing feeling of being purely happy with my place in life. I felt like I was finally entering my Lover Era.
For those who may not be familiar with Swiftie-Lingo, a Lover Era is defined by a phase in your life where you feel like you are truly becoming happy – or at least beginning to move in that direction – as a result of eliminating old negatives, introducing new positives, and accentuating the good that already existed. For me, I defined my Lover Era specifically as gaining more control over my life, leaving the shitty kids from high school behind, and beginning the study of a subject that I enjoyed. Specifically, I wanted to officially enter my “Woman in STEM Badass” phase.
As I began going to college and settling into a new routine, I began to really understand what people meant when they said they felt sorry for me that I was studying Computer Science. Let’s just say that having only the experience of non-university level coding classes, I was humbled very quickly. I began to have negative thoughts that would creep into my mind every once in a while:
“I thought that I’d enjoy this more”
“This seemed so much more interesting in high school”
“I think I resent this more than I appreciate it”
“I am literally never happy when I do this”
These thoughts, that looking back, were very direct and red flag-like, didn’t seem like major concerns to me at the time. In fact, anytime any of these thoughts or related ones crossed my mind, I would silence them, telling myself that occasional feelings of resentment and disdain for the subject that consumes your college career were normal. I told myself that I needed to overcome these feelings to experience the Lover Era I had romanticized for myself. I labeled my ignorance as persistence, making myself believe that I just needed to work harder in order to eliminate my intruding thoughts.
In reality, none of the “persistence” I had was real – at least not for the right reasons. While I was pretty good at sticking with certain smaller problems like segfaults, the real thing I was forcing myself to “stick with” was my major as a whole. This fake persistence created a negative feedback loop in my life. When I had to do work for my Computer Science classes, I’d resent it. I’d tell myself that this resentment could only be mitigated by more work – work that I would end up resenting yet again. This cycle dominated my life: I didn’t allow myself to hang out with friends, eat meals, sleep, take a walk, or do anything that wasn’t directly helping me complete my coding projects or labs. As I carried this into the beginning of the winter semester, matters only got worse as content got harder and things like office hours and labs consumed my daily schedule.
It actually took a group of people to actually point out to me that I was visibly sadder and unhappier for me to realize that my current life crisis was taking up more space than what was manageable. This encounter with said people opened my eyes to the fact that I was miserable and that the path I was on wouldn’t lead to any genuine happiness.
So, I dropped my major.
And it was (and still has been) pretty damn hard. Ever since I made the decision to study Computer Science, all I’ve ever heard from people was that I was making the right choice, so leaving it made me fear that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I was also grappling with the fact that this plan I had made for my life – one of the only constants that I had – no longer existed. Leaving this path of study not only opened the doors to uncertainty, but also seemingly eliminated the possibility of getting to be the boss bitch I had always envisioned myself becoming. I will be the first person to admit that while this statement sounds stupid in theory, as a person who allowed this notion of being a woman in STEM to increase their self-esteem, it was a pretty big blow.
While I continue to struggle with many of these things even as I write this, I’m proud of myself more than anything. I’m proud of myself for having the courage to take the step that many unsatisfied adults wouldn’t take, forget teenagers. Of course, not knowing what I’m going to be studying next year is absolutely mortifying, but at the same time, I can be at peace with the fact that I won’t be stuck unsatisfied, unhappy, and average for the rest of my career. This process has been difficult, scary, and all of the adjectives you could think of, but in return, I found happiness. For the first time in a while, I’ve woken up with optimism, rather than agony, and everyday, I make more progress towards reorienting my academic focus to things that are genuinely interesting to me.
I am happier than ever, because I finally know what it is like to truly enjoy your work and its place in your life. Turns out, this is the euphoric feeling I was looking for at the beginning of the year. This is the feeling of being actually happy with your work and its balance with your life. This is me eliminating old negatives, introducing new positives, and accentuating the good that already existed.
This is the real beginning of my Lover Era.