Ever since I can remember, I’ve always struggled with making decisions. I’ve read it’s a thing that many INFJs struggle with because we see multiple pathways ahead of us and struggle to commit to one, feeling that if we do, we will exclude all other options. I think the first big decision I remember having to make was choosing my GCSE options in Year 8. I mean, it wasn’t that big of a decision but to my 13 year old self, it felt quite daunting.
Then when GCSEs were over and I had to choose which college/sixth form to go to to study A Levels, I found myself toying between two. It took me even longer to decide what A Levels to actually take and I changed my mind several times along the way. At the end of Year 12, I had to decide whether I want to go to university or not, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to study. This was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. I wasn’t sure if university was right for me but the prospect of not going and having to start working was even more daunting.
From about Year 10-ish I said if I did go, I would study history as it had always been an interest of mine. Then when I got to college,I found myself really enjoying geography, so thought I would study that. Then I was considering a joint honours in history and geography. Then I realised I didn’t really enjoy those subjects enough to study them at degree level and that languages – specifically French – were my passion. Although I was advised that studying just French would be too limiting, so ended up applying for French and Politics, despite wondering if I should switch to German instead as I’d always wanted to learn it but never had the opportunity. So that was that, I thought. I would go to university and study French and Politics, graduate with a language degree and pursue a career in the field of languages.
Choosing which university to go to was hard, but simplified by the fact that not many university in the South offered that course combination so I didn’t have too many to choose from. After accepting my place at my current university, I still wondered if it was the right place for me, if the campus was too small, if it was too far from home, if I would meet like-minded people. But I went, I passed first year and I still don’t know if it is the right place for me or if I’m studying the right subject.
I ended up dropping French two weeks into term as the way it was taught just didn’t work for me and my style of learning. That was a really, really hard decision to make. It felt like the life I had planned for myself was falling apart. I would no longer get a language degree or be able to pursue careers that require language degrees. It felt like everything I had been looking forward to had been taking away from me. I mean, in reality there was nothing stopping me from continuing to study French and graduating with a French and Politics degree except for my gut feeling that it just wasn’t right for me. I just didn’t want to be in those French classes and wanted to take the extra Politics modules that I was missing out on. This probably sounds really dramatic but it just made me feel really sad and lost because I realised I wasn’t who I thought I was. I still enjoy French, yes, and I want to continue studying it in the future but realising I wasn’t going to be language student was…hard to get my head around.
So now I am a politics student – well, international relations in fact as I changed degree again, turns out politics is too much of a mess for me to enjoy studying. And honestly, I still feel lost. I have no idea if I made the right decision and if this is the right pathway for me. When I started uni as a joint honours student, it felt like I could see two different pathways emerging, two different futures. The one where I continue to study French, make friends with other passionate linguists and pursue a career in translation or interpretation and the one where I become a single honours Politics/IR student, a route I could follow with no idea of where it would take me.
One thing I’ve reflected on over summer since having some distance from university is that we can’t always know if we’ve made the right decision right now. I’m guilty of being a perfectionist and trying to plan out how my life will go but in truth life never, hardly ever goes the way we plan and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard to accept tough decisions we’ve had to make in the present because we can’t see yet how they’re going to benefit us in the future. I might not realise that this is the right degree or university for me until after I graduate or maybe even later. I just have to trust that I enjoy what I’m doing at the moment and even if I don’t know why I’m pursuing this path and not furthering my French fluency like I planned, it will all make sense in the end. Maybe I wasn’t meant to study French now because I’ll get that opportunity in the future. Maybe in 10 years time I’ll end up in a job that’s perfect for me and wouldn’t have been possible without studying IR. Who knows.
As someone who’s a serial worrier and ‘what if-er’ when it comes to making decisions, I want to reassure you that whatever difficult decisions you’re having to make now or in the future, if you trust your gut feeling and go with what feels right for you, you will end up where you’re meant to be.
I know that I’ve rambled on about changing degree 193929485 times on this blog, but this is just my way of accepting and processing what has been quite a big change in my life and future plans. And there’s no shame in wondering where we would be now if we had made different choices, but it’s important to embrace the new future that lays ahead of you and the opportunities and experiences that will bring.
For now, I’m trying not to plan ahead. I hope that if I work towards what interests me now, I will end up where I’m supposed to be in life eventually and I hope that you all do too.