OPINION: It’s okay to feel lost in college

Price Wilborn, Commentary writer

College is supposed to be the best time of our lives, right? We have the world at our fingertips with every opportunity within our reach. It doesn’t make it easier, though.

I’m only in my second semester here on the Hill, but sometimes I feel lost. Not socially. I have a healthy friend group and love hanging out with them as much as I can. I’ve gotten involved in several different clubs and organizations that I love participating in. 

I don’t feel physically lost, either. WKU has become a second home to me. I love it here. Bowling Green is a wonderful city, home to a wonderful university.

It’s when I start thinking about my future that I feel lost.

Since my first week on the Hill, I’ve been asked at least once a week what it is that I want to do with my political science degree. The answer I’ve been telling everyone is “I have no idea.”

When I was younger, I pictured myself as a lawyer. As I’ve gotten older and learned more about the profession, I can’t comfortably say that practicing law is what I want to spend my life doing. It still sounds appealing, but I know more about everything that comes with it.

I’ve also been asked about whether or not I’m going to study abroad or going to pursue internships out of state. I don’t have answers to those, either. I don’t feel that my high school adequately prepared me to think about those things.

Before college, I had no idea how many opportunities were out there to do things like studying abroad. Studying abroad, nationally competitive scholarships, and out of state internship were things that were never even on my radar.

My high school experience was so focused on getting me ready to transition into college that I was never able to sit down and think about what I wanted to do after.

I’ve recently found myself obsessing over what it is that I want to spend my life doing. The political science degree here at WKU is only 36 hours. This means that I‘m required to pursue a second major or a minor.

This has made me begin wondering what I want to complement my degree with. I want to be able to develop skills that will prepare me for a career that I haven’t even decided yet.

I’ve found myself speaking to professors and program chairs across WKU’s campus. What began as something that I thought would be easy turned into something that has me asking even more questions. I’m no closer to an answer.

I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed at times. I will literally have different ideas on different days. I want to do something that I will love and that I have a passion for, but I would also like to be able to find a job after college.

I’ll be honest, the future scares the living daylights out of me. I truly believe this is because I was never prepared to think about these bigger questions. 

Little elementary school Price told everyone that he was going to go to law school and become a lawyer before pursuing elected office. Slightly bigger college Price now finds himself facing high expectations and the fear of letting those close to him down.

I decided to pursue a political science degree because I am passionate, curious and am genuinely interested in it. It also sounded cool, so I thought, “why not?”

Having time to think about and answer the big questions before I got into college would have helped me immeasurably. I imagine that I am not alone, either.

I feel behind and out of the loop compared to many of my peers, but I want to take this time to truly figure out who I am and who I want to be. When discussing the fact that I’m unclear about what I want to do in the future, I’ve been told that I “better start thinking about it.” I don’t think I agree with that.

To me, college is the perfect place to explore who you are and who you want to be. If you don’t know what you want to do when you grow up, that’s okay! Take classes you’re interested in. Join clubs that make you think about who you are as a person. Watch your friends pursuing what they love and see if they will tell you how they decided. Most importantly, do things you enjoy. These things will be the most important in figuring out who you are and who you want to be.

College is not just career training. Yes, some majors are like that, but that still doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck. If you find yourself wanting to try something new, then go for it! If you find that you have no interest in what you thought would be your career, that’s okay, too!

College is meant to be a time to explore. A time to learn new things, not just about academics, but about yourself, too. Take your time. You’re not in a rush. Everything is going to work out exactly how it’s supposed to.

Yes, I’m scared to death about the future. Yes, I have no idea what I want to spend my life doing. But I know that I’m going to figure it out. I know that this feeling of being lost isn’t going to stick around forever. I just have to figure it out as I go, and you do too.

You’ve got it. I believe in you.

Commentary writer Price Wilborn can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pricewilborn.