You’ve heard it a million times when you start a class or join a new club — monotonous icebreakers. Repetition of certain, yet important, facts. So, in my fifth semester at the University, I’ll start this article off with the answers I spout off every first day of a new course. My name is Matthew Shutler, I’m a sophomore and my major is currently undecided.

Moving into a residence hall, you end up meeting many new people, and for some reason, living with complete strangers leads to a lot of inevitable questions. “Where are you from?” “What year are you in?” “What’s your major?” I would answer them again and again as I met the people who would turn out to be my family away from home. “Dearborn Heights, Mich.” “Freshman.” And, of course, “Ummmm … I’m not sure yet.”

I always felt a little embarrassed without a declared major. Here at the University, I found myself competing with some of the brightest men and women from around the world. I’m surrounded by people who know that they have wanted to become doctors or teachers since they were in diapers, and I’m here, still trying to identify the one career that won’t cause me to go crazy. It should be understandable that I’m feeling a slight inferiority complex.

I remember going to a banquet for students with LSA scholarships in the first month of school last year. We listened to people talk about “how brave we are” for deciding to enroll in LSA. Yes, they said brave. We didn’t apply to the School of Engineering or School of Kinesiology. We applied to the school of Literature, Science, and the Arts, which apparently means we don’t know what we want to do with our lives. Well, I was anxious to begin with, and starting the year off with people telling me that I’m brave for deciding to “find myself” before I choose a career wasn’t exactly a comforting feeling.

But there are benefits to having an undeclared major, despite it being occasionally overwhelming. You have the unique opportunity to take a wider variety of classes. How many freshmen engineering students really have the room in your schedules to take introductory courses for poetry, sociology, history, French and archaeology? Another little award you get from taking your time to pick your major is that when you finally declare, you’re more sure of what you want. With any luck, when I finally decide what I want to do with my life, there won’t be too much wavering after that moment. Fingers crossed, that is.

Recently, I’ve discovered that I have a preoccupation with needing to know all the answers about what the future will bring. Here I am, complaining about the anxiety triggered by not having a plan for the rest of my life. But there are hundreds of other students in this situation, and most seem to find their way through the University and graduate with a degree in something they know they can work with. I have learned to forget about the pressure of declaring this semester and focus on finding what I love. I also learned that you can decide to be anxious and only think about not having a plan, or you can look at it as an adventure to find your own path. I think I’ll go with the latter and make my undergraduate career more of an adventure.

I think I just realized why they called us brave at that banquet. We’re brave enough to say that we may not have a certain career in mind, but we’re going to search. I’ve decided to embrace this bravery, and if you’re an undeclared LSA sophomore, you should, too.

Matthew Shutler is an assistant editorial page editor.

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