When I first got to Hopkins, I had little to no idea what I really wanted to do. My interests were obviously centered in the humanities, and I loved to write. Beyond this, however, I didn’t have a clear path in mind, and so I chose the major that had my primary focus right in the title: Writing Seminars. I’d wanted to explore creative writing for a while, and the introductory classes that constituted my requirements for the year, along with the diverse distribution requirements (History, Philosophy and English) made it seem like this was the major that would fit perfectly with my main skills and interdisciplinary interests.
As most people will tell you, the jump from freshman to sophomore year is more overwhelming than expected. Major requirements become more specialized (at least for Writing Seminars), living arrangements change completely, and among a plethora of other social and academic factors, there’s a preconceived notion that you should feel totally comfortable slipping back into the Hopkins sphere. Inevitably, the bubble bursts, and for some reason you tend to reevaluate just about every aspect of your “path” here. For me, this came to fruition with my Intro to Fiction class: an entire semester devoted to in-class fiction writing exercises and the presentation of an original 10-15 page short story at the end of the semester. The task seemed daunting at the beginning of the semester, and so it proved to be as the weeks progressed. We were required to read several short stories and analyze them for each class (which was easily my favorite component), but this ultimately constituted a small portion of the classtime. I found myself begrudgingly confronting each new writing exercise, with the presence of my final short story looming over me the entire semester.
I got to go home for Christmas break enviably early, before the official finals cycle even began. I used the time to decompress, but also to address what exactly left me feeling slightly unfulfilled by the term’s end. Most of my other classes fell directly within my true interests: a journalistic writing class and a museum studies class, for example, were easily the highlights of my academic experience at Hopkins thus far. But neither were required for or relevant to the essence of my major. I felt pretty embarrassed about how long it took for me to realize the futility of my current track in relation to what I naturally gravitate towards. After several long conversations with my parents and more than a few long dog walks (my personal favorite mode of contemplation), I came to the conclusion that I simply wasn’t happy being a Writing Seminars major at Hopkins, even with its impressive array of faculty and alumni. I missed analytical writing and the flexibility to take more diverse humanities classes, and unfortunately, it took being semi-miserable in a fiction writing class and an exorbitantly long holiday break for me to reevaluate my direction.
I’m reassured by the fact that plenty of students at Hopkins and all over the country change their majors at least once in their college careers, and luckily for me, English isn’t too far of a jump from Writing Seminars. When I spoke to a friend about making what at first seemed like a badly timed cataclysmic shift, she mentioned that I was fortunate enough to have the epiphany this early on and not first semester senior year: she wasn’t wrong. At this point, I’m glad to be back for Intersession, taking a class on the philosophy of aesthetics (which sounds more pretentious than it is in our discussions, in which a bunch of non-philosophy majors try to strip Plato’s writing down to the very basic building blocks), and trying to reconfigure my courseload for next semester. I feel a newfound sense of control over my life, like I finally took a stand for what truly mattered to me in some climactic faceoff. But I’m just going to embrace it for now, and wait for the sentence “I’m an English major,” to sound more casual than the way it sounds now: weirdly strained and overexcited. We’ll see if that day ever comes.