Follow Your Heart, Your Brain Will Follow

by Mallory Nielsen

IMG_4138With the spring approaching, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the ways my life has changed since this time last year, and to be completely honest, things are NOT the way I had envisioned they would be. This time last year I was feverishly preparing for my AP exams, I was filled with hope and anxiety as my acceptance letters rolled in. I was excited to go to school for neuroscience, something I knew I’d be good at – something I thought I wanted to do.

As graduation got closer and I had made my decision that I’d be spending the next four years at Drexel, but I wasn’t as excited as I should have been. I was exhausted from trying to be the best at everything in high school, exhausted from a schedule loaded with AP and Dual-Enrollment classes, exhausted from so many extracurriculars, exhausted from working two jobs. Enough was enough. I wasn’t happy, and I needed to figure out why.

Growing up as a smart and ambitious girl, my family and teachers had always had great aspirations for me. I remember my parents gleefully telling anyone who would listen that, “Their little girl is going to be a doctor or a lawyer someday.” The pride they took in my intelligence pushed me to be the best in every subject. School came easily to me and I took that as a sign that I was meant to be in well-renowned field like medicine or engineering. Throughout high school I took every AP I could and I was always acing my Bio or Chem tests, but I was miserable writing lab reports and doing labs in class. It wasn’t for me, but how could I not pursue it if I’m so good at?

I started to dread the idea of entering a science related field. What was I going to do? I didn’t want to practice law, business seemed mundane and boring to me, what was I going to do?

I was always my happiest when I was creating art, making music, or dancing. Maybe this was something I could turn into a career? My whole life I had never even considered a career in the arts, “You’re too smart for that.” I was told over and over. After browsing the majors Drexel had in its college of media arts and design, I found something that piqued my interest: Interior Design.

This would be a way for me to bridge my strengths in logic and planning with my creative passion. This was a career I could finally be happy in. The morning of my graduation, I submitted a portfolio of my artwork to apply to transfer into the program. Telling my parents was met with criticism, “Why would you want to do this? How are you going to tell people you’re not going to be a neuroscientist? All of your work in high school is going to go to waste.” But after explaining my thoughts to them they understood, and of course they want me to be happy.

It took me 18 years to realize that the happiness and encouragement of the people around me is NOT my happiness. I am so thankful I made that discovery when I did because I am happier now than I’ve ever been. School is no longer boring, I always feel like I’m learning new things, and I get to learn by creating new beautiful things rather than memorizing the laws and theories of those before me. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re too smart or too dumb to do something. Follow your heart, and your brain will follow.

Much love,



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