Student Series: It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

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Art by FISK

By Noella Williams

Adapting to change can be difficult, and my inclination to overthink doesn’t help. I’m a Pisces, also known as the emotional yet intuitive water sign, but one of the curses that metaphorically floats in my boat is the tendency to overthink. When change begins to occur in my life, I briefly enjoy the thought of an unfamiliar feeling, but eventually, worry and anxiety kick in. I’m beginning my final year of college, and I’ve been constantly thinking about how I’ll be in an entirely different setting in a year. That should be exhilarating, right? New environments, thrilling adventures and golden opportunities await me in my post-grad life, but I also worry that I’m not entirely prepared for the changes to come.

During my first year of undergrad, I had a complete meltdown over my future career and current major,  as one usually does after their first semester. Throughout high school, I felt this immense pressure to go into the medical field, which I later realized was directly influenced by my parents. It sounds comical to say it now, but I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life at age 17. Once I realized that that wasn’t actually true, and that I had no intention of being involved in the healthcare industry, I experienced a lot of  stress, anxiety and depression surrounding my career path. These three painful experiences would eventually transform into happiness after I discovered my adoration for writing, but the journey to my contentment didn’t transpire overnight. I sat down with myself and thought, “What do I actually enjoy? Could I enjoy this task for the entirety of my career?” Writing came second nature for me whenever I enjoyed the topics I was covering, so I switched my major to journalism mid-semester. It was a heartwarming feeling to feel like I successfully rewrote my own script. While I had initially felt indecisive and critical of myself for being so uncertain about my future, I believe these feelings really stemmed from my resistance to change. After I allowed myself to be more open to change concerning my career, it led me to question other major parts of my life.

Over the past few years, I’ve shifted the way that I view and understand sexuality and gender identity. As my close friends and partner moved away for college, I did more activities alone and had extra time to learn about myself. Four years ago, as I was starting college, I would’ve considered myself to be simply an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, but now, here I am, happily queer and still figuring things out. Since I’ve been in a heteronormative relationship for five years, I’ve battled feelings of needing to downplay my sexuality due to my partner being a straight cisgender male even though he himself has never forced me to minimize myself or my queerness. But that internalized doubt is starting to fade: if I were to be asked what I relate to most on the spectrum of sexuality, I would answer bisexual, but generally speaking, I am queer. Recently, I’ve been playing around with she/they pronouns (as opposed to she/her) because I’m on a journey to figuring out where I belong inside or outside the gender binary. Some days I perceive my feminine energy more than my masculine energy, and vice versa, and I’m telling myself that it’s okay to rethink how I view my gender identity. I completely resonate with Black womanhood and my unique experience as a Black woman, but femininity is not the only part of myself that I’d like to express. This evolved, confident person is still so fresh to me, that I sometimes don’t recognize myself. 

I’m learning more and more that changing your mind about things is not only self-aware, but it’s pretty brave. Recognizing that you’ve evolved past a certain mindset or opinion can provide you with a better understanding that you’re not the same person that you were a month, a week or even a day ago. The version of ourselves that we’re comfortable with can actually become a happier or more authentic person with a changed mindset or way of thinking. Honestly, it would be more concerning if you didn’t change your mind and elevate your thinking often. The emotions that usually find their way into your head amidst change are fear and uncertainty, but by getting comfortable with the unknown and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable we open ourselves up to positive changes that help us grow as people. Our preferences and perspectives are not permanently defined, and they’re allowed to shift. As we evolve as individuals, our likes and dislikes will evolve, too, molding us into the person we’re always becoming.

Although I am still learning to welcome and look forward to change, I’ve begun to accept that it’s inevitable. Learning to control your reaction to it can have a huge impact on our personal development. Once I became confident in switching to a journalism career and embracing my sexuality, I felt freer, happier and more like myself. It helped me realize that, despite some moments of doubt and worry, change can be beneficial to my well-being and personal growth. After all, I’m not the person that I was a year ago, and I’m doing pretty well.

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