There are so many different majors offered at UNH. From athletic training to equine studies, there’s a place for everyone on campus. Zoom in on the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture and you’ll dive into a world full of interesting and complicated fields of study, from nutritional sciences to genetics. Zoom in even closer and you’ll meet the small class of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability students. These undergrads have decided they want to dedicate their existence to the preservation of the natural world. It’s quite the noble pursuit and certainly a daunting one. What’s the point in doing so when the Earth is so clearly screwed up, basically to the point at which it is beyond repair? No one person can reverse the damage of thousands of years of environmental destruction! Why should I care when it seems like no one else in the world does?
I gave up on my major for some time last year. I never went so far as to change majors, but for a while I was just going through the motions. I sat through lectures and did my homework, all the while asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” Every day I learned about man-made issues encroaching upon the natural processes of the world: this species is near extinction, that country is facing life-threatening atmospheric conditions; it’s debilitating to a young environmentalist. The question begs on, “Why am I doing this?”
I’ve been passionate about conservation for so long, it’s become who I am. I am a conservationist! I am nature’s warrior! I shouldn’t be having these thoughts of doubt, of concession. But what I wish I knew at the time was that phases like this are bound to happen.
And what’s more is that moments like this are bound to happen to EVERYONE. While they can absolutely suck while you’re in them, it’s crazy how much you can grow and prosper from them. At the time, I wasn’t sure whether or not I would stay in my major. The goals I had set for myself were way too unrealistic and the endgame of being a conservationist, as I saw it, seemed way too far-fetched. However, I learned more about myself than I ever would have had I not had to struggle for a while.
I learned a few simple facts about myself and about our world. You are going to change throughout four years in college. I started out with the same goal as every other conservationist: I was going to save the world. That was going to be me! But as anyone else could have told me, that’s not an attainable goal for one single person. It’s great to aim for the stars when setting a goal, but if you’re going to reach that goal, it has to be specific. I realized that just saying, “I’m going to save the world!” wasn’t enough for to actually enact real change. I had to sit down and hone in on what I really wanted to change about the way humans treat the world and more importantly how I was going to do that. After a lot of self-reflection, I decided that I wanted to change the way people view the natural world. I firmly believe that if I can bring a new era of appreciation for nature, conservation of our world will become a priority in our everyday, individual lives but also at the national and international level. I plan on spending my days sharing my love for the world that sustains us all with as many people as I can! The second is that we’re all going to burn out at some point. Some class, some assignment, just something will finally make you snap and think that you’re in the wrong place, wasting your time. There’s always the chance that maybe you are in the wrong place. But when these moments come around, you owe it to yourself to take a step back and think. Look inward and ask yourself whether or not you’re happy with the path you’re on. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ll make, or the possibility of fame and recognition, all you need to worry about is whether or not you’re going to enjoy the path that you’ve chosen. It’s worth noting that finding your path, while it may help to have input from others, i.e. advisors, friends, parents, the choice is yours, and yours alone. Don’t let anyone try and tell you where your happiness lies because the simple fact is that they don’t know! Only you know what will make you happiest, so find it, and chase it!
Welcome change, it means you’re growing as a person. You can start your time at UNH fully prepared to move in one direction, yet you might come across another path that you find even more enticing. That’s the beautiful thing about our fine university: there are so many different paths to take, if one doesn’t meet your expectations, you can absolutely find another, or even pave your own! You owe it to yourself (and your bank account) to get the most out of your education and your time here at UNH. Do yourself a favor: take some time and think about what you want to do with your life. Start setting goals for yourself, even if they are a little far-fetched. If you want it to happen, make it happen.