Featured Friday: Mendy Yang
Today’s featured writer is Mendy Yang. Mendy is a sophomore at Yale University interested in studying way too many things, but focusing on economics and psychology in particular. The little, “ordinary” things in life makes her happy, like silliness with friends, people’s sincerity, and most of all, love and laughter.
Halfway through the semester, after complaining for the 2341351235th time about how little I was learning in physics, one of my friends asked me in puzzlement: “Mendy, why are you even taking that class?” I was a bit taken aback, but I immediately poured out a bunch of reasons, the top one among them being “It’s required for pre-med.”
Over the weekend following that conversation, I realized that maybe I had been deluding myself, just a little bit. I didn’t want to confront that question because the answer was more complicated than I wanted to admit, because the answer revealed something that would throw off the entire balance of my semester. But try as I might, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, and with the course drop deadline quickly approaching, I found myself thinking more and more about why I was taking physics in the first place. Again and again though, the strongest reason that I could come up with was that I wanted to take it in order to fulfill a pre-requisite and keep pre-med open as an option. Otherwise, I didn’t find the material interesting, I wasn’t learning anything from the class, and it certainly wasn’t contributing to my overall enjoyment of life at Yale.
Despite all of the signs pointing towards the obvious, something held me back from going to the Master’s Office and turning that drop form in. Like most students at Yale, I had never, ever been a “quitter;” I didn’t ditch projects halfway, and I didn’t give up just because something was hard. So even though I hated physics and got nothing out of it, I kept telling myself that to drop it was to fail, and I couldn’t fail, especially at a place like Yale.
Yet here I am today, physics free. So what changed? Someone told me that “It takes courage to give something up.” When I was confronted with the issue of dropping physics, I finally realized what this seemingly paradoxical statement meant. Dropping physics wasn’t giving up; instead, it was the first time I had ever been brave enough to act for myself. I forgot about what was expected of me, what my parents wanted, what everyone else told me. I dropped physics not because I gave up or because it was too difficult, but because I knew I owed it to myself to make time to think through all of the things I was doing at Yale. Not only to think through it all, but to digest all that I had taken on, to make sense of everything that I had experienced.
Sitting here now, having just finished the first semester of my sophomore year a week ago, I know that I made the right decision. Since I got to college, I have been constantly doing and reacting, never stopping for a moment to analyze or ponder. Dropping physics didn’t mean that my life fell into place perfectly after that, but it was the first step towards figuring out what I want to do with my future. With the time that I would have spent Facebooking and drifting off in a useless, meaningless, required class, I have instead shadowed professionals in various career fields, talked to a diverse group of experienced professionals and peers, and taken a good look at myself.
Through this process, if there’s one piece of advice I have for anyone else who is still struggling with choosing a major or settling on a career path, is that no matter what, we cannot settle. Settling for something when we don’t know ourselves and haven’t taken the time to understand ourselves leads to regrets, which is the fastest recipe to disaster. Though I still haven’t decided on my own path yet, I know that I am slowly discovering myself and all of the amazing possibilities out there in a way that I never could had I not said no to walking a set path, to a perfectly laid out route. I realized that before, pre-med’s largest appeal was that it was a path low in risk, one that had already been worked out by so many others. Now, I know that if I end up choosing pre-med, it’ll have to be because it’s the path I want, the battle I want to fight. Otherwise, I now know I have the courage to say no, to assess and re-assess, and ultimately, to embrace a future that I am 100% in love with. I, and every single one of us, owe it to ourselves to find that passion and not to settle for anything less.