“These storms are only trying to wash you clean”

I recently made a decision that I’ve received a lot of criticism for.

Despite the fact that there are those that believe this choice occurred spontaneously, I believe that it had been forthcoming for quite some time.

As an incoming freshman, I declared the major of chemistry/secondary education, which was changed to strictly chemistry by my second semester, and back to chemistry ed in December. It’s important to note that I’ve always been passionate about science, but not in the way that would require me to seek a career in a lab.

I find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in the way that a child’s eyes light up when watching a vinegar and baking soda volcano erupt. I live for moments when my students aren’t afraid to voice their ideas when experimenting in the lab. I believe that it is fundamental for a science teacher to utilize the demonstrations that accompany their lesson.

I am a future teacher. I intend to spend my time here at Waynesburg University preparing to lead my own classroom in just a few years. However, I’ve known for nearly two semesters that this was not occurring with my education in the present.

At Waynesburg, as an education major, you are on track to earn a degree in your area of concentration with a teaching certification served on the side. In other words, I was pursuing a degree in chemistry instead of education, and I was expected to fulfill the entirety of the degree requirements for both. That’s an insane amount of credits to try to fit into four years.

When I approached my advisor with the question, “Why am I not earning a degree in education with a focus in general chemistry and basic organic? Why am I required to take up to advanced organic chemistry and differential equations?”

Her response: “We’ve structured it this way so that you will have a chemistry degree, just in case you don’t want to teach.”

Just in case I don’t want to teach. Just in case I decide to waste four years practically double majoring in chemistry and education.

I absolutely loved general chemistry. But I absolutely hated organic chemistry.

Multiple times, I expressed to my advisor that I was struggling in the course. I only received passive responses, such as, “Everyone struggles in OChem. Just get through it and everything will be fine.”

So, I decided to stick with it, until I physically felt stuck. By the start of my fourth semester this past January, I couldn’t quite place my finger on what was happening as I was losing motivation for writing and other things that I enjoyed. I was exhausted, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

I decided to take advantage of our school’s counseling center to figure out what was going on with me, and it was there that I realized that I was experiencing symptoms of depression. OChem wasn’t entirely to blame for this shift in my mental health, but it certainly played a role. Mainly, it was due to the fact that I was starting to feel the pressure of failing the first course in my college career, when I was always considered one of the best students in my classes and major.

I knew that there was a disconnect between what I wanted to do and what I was forcing myself to do, which led me to consider if I was truly stuck in this form of quicksand or if it was time to think of alternatives. I’ve mentioned before that I have always been passionate about science, and my love for the subject is surely not limited to chemistry.

As of March 27, 2019, I officially became a biology/secondary education major. I am looking forward to my upper level classes and have the opportunity to focus a bit more on the education side of things than the science.

However, in a shocking turn of events, it’s as if I’ve become public enemy #1 of the chemistry department. I was met with anger and disapproval from people who berated me for my decision and have told me that I made the wrong choice. Our incredible safety coordinator was the only one that gave me time to explain myself and offered me reassurance and acceptance.

I learned a long time ago that other people’s opinions of you shouldn’t matter when it comes to what’s best for you and your future. I haven’t given these people a second thought as I was welcomed with open arms into the biology department, and I am confident that I made the right decision.

I’ve embraced the last few weeks as I was freed from the weight of what was holding me back. I’ve been able to enjoy and focus on my education courses more than I could with OChem on my plate. More importantly, I’ve been able to focus on the one thing that I’m undoubtedly passionate about: writing.

So, friends, believe me when I say that things happen for a reason. This was only a setback, and I’m looking forward to the next two years of college and (hopefully) launching my writing career in the future. As Jessica Katoff once said, “I promise you, these storms are only trying to wash you clean.”

With that said, keep an eye out for more blog posts about my first round of edits with Because of India as I tackle CampNaNoWriMo this month! Let me know in the comments if you’re participating as well. I’m so glad to be back on this journey with you 🙂

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