Cast your mind back to when you were young; how many times did you change your career, AKA what you wanted to be when you ‘grew up’? Lots. So, when did it become a bad thing to want to do something else? We are often made to feel like once we have chosen a degree, our career paths are set in stone and that we have to continue on that path. Well, this isn’t true.
I am told that when I was small (whatever that means) I wanted to be a teacher, a writer, a manager and a president; probably not all at once. Throughout high school I wanted to be a pilot, a singer, a writer, an inventor and then an aeronautical engineer; some at once. I ended up pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics engineering, mainly because I felt it was the best degree to equip me in being an inventor, and I still want to be a writer – which I’m kind of doing through these blogs. But I digress.
The point of a degree is not merely to teach you technical aspects of a particular field, even with more focused fields such as science or engineering. It’s main purpose, which is usually not communicated, is to cultivate a way of thinking so that one is better able to apply critical thinking and problem solving.
Now don’t get me wrong, depending on what you want to do in life, getting a (specialised) degree is important. If nothing else, just for getting a deeper understanding of a field. Though, finances allowing, you shouldn’t feel obligated to stick out a degree that you have come to realise is just not for you despite your best efforts. At the same time, just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean you have to pursue it as a degree.
For instance, my cousin studied accounting, something she thought she would enjoy as a degree because she enjoyed it as a subject in high school. Turns out it was not her cup of tea. Nonetheless, her parents told her to stick it instead of switching to something else. Now, I can understand the worry from her parent’s side of there “not being jobs in fashion” (which she loves to bits) but she would have probably done a lot better in her studies had she changed majors. This bring us to another touchy subject, passion
This means different things to different people. Growing up, some people used to advice against following certain career paths because getting jobs in certain fields wasn’t ‘guaranteed’. Entertaining this fallacy for a second, any job can be here today and gone tomorrow. So, in a world where nothing is guaranteed (which is basically the whole basis of life), why not do something you actually enjoy doing?
I have also come to realise that most people actually have more than one passion, and there is nothing wrong with that. This was best explained by a Ted talk available here. We don’t have to have just ‘one true calling in life’, and it’s okay to not know or even believe that you have a calling.
The only constant in life is change, and part of that is being cognisant that we are also changing as individuals. This change extends to all facets of who we are; with this in mind, we should not be too hard on ourselves when we want to pursue a career that’s different to what we studied. I am not the same person I was a year ago, let alone when I was in primary school. It would be unfair to expect all my interests to stay the same as I change.
What we often don’t hear is that it is okay to change our minds. Try a job or a career path, give it your all and if you feel that it is truly not for you, go on and try something else. You only live once, so carpe diem, YOLO or whatever else you want to use – just go out there, live your best life and enjoy what you do.