When I was in college (at BYU), I changed my major about 9 times. It might have only been 8 times. Either way, it was getting ridiculous. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and when none of the majors I was choosing were working out, I went to the campus Career Counseling Center for help.
But they didn’t help. I was paired with this older gentleman who was obviously a bit old-fashioned and traditional. After telling him about my passions and what I loved to do that I hoped to turn into a degree and possibly a career, he directed me to the major: Home and Family Living.
What the [insert expletive here]??
It was like he wasn’t even listening to me, and because I was a girl he was just pawning me off into the major that would turn me into a great mom. It made me furious. That was exactly why I had been trying to find my own major. I was sick of being discriminated against because I was a girl. If a male had walked into that office and gave the same answers as I had, I wonder how different the outcome would have been.
I even tried Home and Family Living. I lasted 2 months. And I really tried to like it. But I just didn’t. I remember sitting in one of my classes for the major, waiting for it to begin, and the same obnoxious girls as usual walked in and sat in the front row. They wore tight animal print and neon colors every day. They flaunted their style, talked loudly because their conversations were so obviously awesome, and wore tons (and I mean tons) of makeup. Their hair was even huge and probably fake. On this particular day, one girl pulled out a Dr. Pepper from her backpack and ostentatiously opened and began to drink it for the entire class to see.
That was it. My inner voice asked, “What the heck am I doing here?” Not only did I not belong, but I was utterly miserable. I stood up and walked out of class. I was done. I did not want to graduate next to those bimbos (no offense if you like animal print or neon colors every day and wear lots of makeup). I didn’t want to be ashamed of my college degree when I finally got it, and I know that I wouldn’t have been entirely proud of it if I had continued on in that major.
I walked across the courtyard to the engineering building and went straight into the administration office. I looked over all of the information sheets about all of the majors the college of engineering had.
Then I saw it: industrial design.
I had been told about industrial design, but I didn’t know much about it. As I read and learned more about it, I was falling completely and madly in love with it. When I took the freshman classes for it the following semester, I wondered why I hadn’t found it sooner. I had already been in school for nearly 4 years, and it was a 4-year program. It was so frustrating to realize that it would take me 8 years to get a BFA. But I was so passionate about it that I wanted to make it happen more than anything else I had ever done in my entire life.
However, I was simultaneously beginning therapy for 15+ years of PTSD. I was pretty much doomed to fail at my new-found passion and obsession. I was pretty much doomed to fail at everything relating to life for the next ten months, minimum.
When I finally dropped out of college to deal with all of my personal issues, I was trying not to give up on my dreams, but I was really worried that I would never make it back to college or finish that incomplete that I took in one of my classes. When that incomplete deadline came and went an entire year later, I gave up. Therapy was hard, and as much as it helped me in the present, it seemed to destroy my future. One of my classmates found out that I wasn’t going to be able to keep going in the major and he told me, “Janae, if you’re not meant to do industrial design, then I don’t know who is.” I soon learned that a lot of my classmates agreed with him, as did a couple of my professors. That compliment crushed me even more. I’ve never forgotten it, because all along I knew it was true.
I started telling family and friends that in the future I was planning on taking independent study courses so that I could get my bachelor’s degree in general studies. And I was okay with that at the time. By getting it I would have a college degree of some sort, which is better than nothing at all, and then maybe I could go back to school later.
But who was I kidding? Deep down I was so ashamed of my failures that I fell into serious depression. Add an unexpected pregnancy to the mix and I felt like my industrial designer dream was over. I still regret dropping out after finding something I love more than my hobbies. But what else could I do? I couldn’t flunk my classes (because of how difficult therapy was) and then expect my application into sophomore year to be accepted. So instead I planned to just get a glorified associates degree and be a stay-at-home-mom for the next 20 years.
But last weekend I remembered that I’m not the kind of girl who settles for less than her ambitious goals and lifelong designer dreams.
On Sunday night Bob and I talked about what to do with our lives and how to get there. And with all of my self-discovery that I had been doing, my hopes and dreams all came spilling back out.
Now I’m in a place where I am far more balanced and I can deal with the depression, anxiety, and low self esteem that accompanies my PTSD. And I’m determined to go back to school. I’m going to do everything I have to in order to get back into that major and stay in it until I have that diploma in my hands. I’m going to work as hard and as long as necessary to get it. I’m going to become that industrial designer that I’ve dreamed of becoming. I’m going to have a career. There has to be a way. I’m going to find it. Period.
So look out, BYU. I’m coming back. And I’m fiercely determined not to let your bureaucracy or sexual discrimination squash my dreams again.