Major Anxiety

As I walked up the brick path to the Landman Library on the last day of finals week last year, I took in the scene: It was early in May, and the air held onto what was left of the springtime coolness as summer rounded the corner. The sun was beating down on Arcadia’s campus, the grass was a deep green, and trees were in full bloom. Everything about the day put an ease on the stress of my last final—biology. However, as I entered the library and headed to a private study room, I began to dread the next hour of cramming.

Scanning a semester’s worth of notes, I thought, How am I going to remember this? (Enter: sweaty palms.) I had been studying all week long (OK, maybe three days), but the last, painful hour before the exam seemed to wipe any knowledge of the material from my mind. Suddenly, a Phylum began to sound like an instrument rather than a grouping for organisms, and the image of the circulatory system morphed into a maze before my eyes.

Alone in the little glass room, I began to panic, wishing I had spent more of the week studying. And then I got a grip. I ignored my frantic thoughts and tried to force my eyes to somehow magically retain every single letter I caught sight of. Memorize. Memorize. Memorize. 

When it came time to take the final exam, I sat in the chair—my palms still sweaty—and went over everything I could remember. Kingdom, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, I said to myself. A pine tree is an example of a coniferophyta. Soon, my pencil had marked up the paper, and within an hour, I was finished. Not too bad, I thought. I had worried for nothing, per usual.

I always had a knack for biology, but despite my ability to memorize and understand the course material, I decided to switch my major to Print Communications. I just kept thinking to myself: There’s no way I’m spending the rest of my life in a lab, or worse, a hospital.

After I made the decision, I felt like I was selling myself short by leaving such a difficult major, almost as if I was taking the easy way out. I would soon find out, though, that the field of communications is difficult in its own way, especially for someone with a mind steeped in science.