My journey began when I entered university without really having any idea what I wanted to do. I was accepted into a program and I’ve stuck with it, despite not necessarily loving it. Even my grades aren’t that bad, but I’ve been studying this for three years without any real interest or dislike for it.
That might sound nice to some people, that I managed to do well without even liking the subject itself, but it isn’t that great. It made me wonder how my university years could have unfolded if I had actually studied in a program that I genuinely had an interest in. After a wake-up call I had, when a family member of mine suffered through a season of depression, I do not know what happened to me… but I guess I just leaked (for lack of a better word) out of my own bindings.
As a result, without any great effort, I gave up all intentions of going to medical school, which was something my parents wanted for me. I gave up on biology, chemistry, and calculus and began to look for a new direction. And it is surprising to acknowledge this now, but it was so easy. I just did what I enjoyed. All those wrong choices and failures that I had to face in my first year because I wasn’t happy with the courses I took slipped away from my life with surprising ease.
Of course, I have glossed over a lot of the details that took place during this time. But the message that I want to get across is: do not fret over the fact that you don’t really know what you want to do in the future or what career you want to pursue after graduating. I have met several people who are graduating and they still have no clue what to do with their lives. My advice for those lost souls is to wait. Seriously, just hang in there. The answer to your difficult question literally walks up to you some time in your life because it has been hanging around you all along.
The answer to what you want to do with your life is inside you; you just haven’t found a way to unravel it from all those layers that you have covered yourself with. The one thing I’ve learned about finding what you were made to do is that it takes time and a lot of soul-searching. It’s difficult work, but necessary.
I found my answer when I was doing homework for a language class where I had to make a sentence using a noun. I wrote that I wanted to study for my master’s in Oxford in the future. I didn’t actually mean it. When I read it out loud in class, the professor asked “In?” I was confused by his question and couldn’t answer back. He said, “A master’s in literature, right?” He knew how much I loved reading the literature of different languages (mostly in translation) through an essay I had written where I talked about my favourite novels and authors.
I was surprised by his insight, but now as I’m learning another language this year and planning to learn a third in my final year, I can already see a pattern in my interests when I decided to study only what I enjoyed. I’ve realized that I might have an interest in comparative literature and that I might want to pursue a master’s in that.
So to you, UTM student, I urge you to have hope and wait. Nobody knows if they’ll be able to make it successfully to the finish line in this long marathon called life. But if you keep your pace steady and persistently move forward, you’ll realize you were heading in a direction that was meant for you all along—you just did not have any compass to guide you to it back then. Hopefully, you shall find a compass that can give you direction some time soon.