Riya Mital

“What’s your major?”

Does anyone else dread being asked?
Growing up, all I heard was how great math and science were. They’re respectable, they will get you a good job—think of all the money, all the respect. But my heart never felt full doing equations or learning about chemicals. I liked to learn about people, culture, and art. But there was always this societal and cultural pressure on me to choose something in STEM. Well, spoiler alert, I didn’t end up doing that and turns out, that decision forced me to build some thick skin.

Transitioning from high school to college was a big change for me. Although I was considered pretty smart in high school, I found people looking down on me because of my major. So it was quite a shock for me going into college because I had no idea about major stereotypes.

So how did I work to overcome this, and what are some tips that can help you?

⚖️ School-Life Balance

First things first, separate your school and personal life. Personally, most of my friends are STEM majors, so being a social science major can feel pretty isolating. But you need to remember that school is not everything. Your friends can be a part of your social life and not your school life. Comparison is a silent killer—instead of trying to push it down, try to remove that aspect from your relationships completely.

🪞 Self-Reflection

The next thing I did was self-reflect. Why did all this noise bother me so much? I realized that the root of the cause was other people’s opinions on my life. I told myself that it was okay that I was interested in what I was interested in, and others can be interested in what they like. Everyone has different goals, and that is totally okay. It’s easy to let the noise get to you, but remember that if you truly love what you are learning, it will all be worth it.


🧭 The Maze of Your Life

The very last thing that I want to share is something I came up with on a walk. I stumbled across a maze on campus (fun fact-the picture is the maze that I actually walked in!) I decided to complete the maze and came up with a metaphor. The center of the maze was my ultimate goal and the hurdles were the mental blocks, life blocks, or anything else that tries to stop me in life. But, no matter what, I always reached the middle. I realized that these thoughts—internal and external, were all just hurdles that I could overcome and after being passed, they become irrelevant. That is the key to blocking out noise and staying focused on your goals. Remember that these hurdles are just hurdles. You will be okay and you will reach the center, whatever that may mean to you.

Lastly, remember that no matter what your major is or what you like to study, there is no right or wrong choice. So that also means that there is no reason to feel insecure about it. Intellect is not always about majors or grades. Do what you love and never be ashamed of that! 

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