If you ask me what I liked most about my Psychology classes, I would probably say the people you meet in them. There are some who are simply pursuing a Psychology degree because they think it’s “easy” and then there are the ones who are so nerdy and quirky that they talk about their classes during their dining hall meals with friends. I was definitely the latter. And my favorite conversations were with those who felt the same way.
In my second year, I met some people in my Developmental Psych class who made me realize something about myself – a fundamental flaw, I think, that kept me from taking on challenges, experiencing new things, and learning more about the world and myself.
That Developmental Psych class primarily involved group work, which allowed us to meet our fellow classmates and learn more about each other’s experiences with classes, professors, and various topics in Psychology. One of my friends, who happened to be a Cognitive Science major, couldn’t stop talking about her neuroscience courses, her research position in a memory research lab, and her interests outside of class. She was immensely passionate about her studies, and constantly pushed herself to do more.
I was particularly drawn to people like this because they conveyed a passion that was unlike anything I had seen before. They made me question some things about myself. Why was I so afraid to take a challenging course? Why did I never attend any student organization meetings? Why did I not apply for research positions? Why did I not apply for summer internships? Why did barely go to Professor’s office hours?
The field of Psychology encompasses a variety of different areas, ranging from Social and Developmental Psychology, all the way to Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. When I first began to take classes, my interests were focused around the softer Psych classes, rather than the harder science courses. Unfortunately, as a Psychology major, there were some course requirements that I couldn’t run away from, such as Sensation and Perception and Cognitive Psychology. Of course, if I were not required to take those classes, I would definitely avoid them at all costs. In this case, I had no choice.
But it was because I had no choice that I realized just how much I enjoyed Cognitive Psychology. In fact, it turned out to be my favorite class at UCLA. Had I not been required to take it, I would have been too afraid and reluctant to take the class, and I would have never known…
…Which then begs the question, what else did I turn down in the past, that might’ve taught me something about myself, or might’ve given me extraordinary experience for a potential career path?
At this point, I wouldn’t know. But it brings me to my next point – the greatest piece of advice I have learned.
“You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.” – Jennifer J. Freeman
That was my problem. I was the only thing standing in the way of all of the experiences I hadn’t had. I was simply afraid of failing. For that reason, I never tested new waters and I never had challenged myself with new opportunities.
I do not regret all the “risks” I did not take in the past because I was never aware that I was the only thing standing in my own way. But I’m here to remind you guys that if you’re afraid to take that one really hard class by that really difficult professor, just do it, try it out, you have absolutely nothing to lose. If you’re hesitant to apply for that summer internship, just do it, you may or may not get an interview, but at least you tried. If you’re reluctant to go to a career fair because you’re nervous about talking to employers, just do it, because you never know what might happen.
Personally, I would choose failures over the feelings of regret for not even trying.
Good luck on finals, everyone! But remember – the Career Center is open during Finals week if you still need help!
– Cynthia | Peer Advisor, UCLA Career Center