“What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”
I always hated answering this question. It was a constant struggle mapping out my end goal. I’m sure most of you have been responding to this question at least some point in your lives – either to others and/or yourself. And if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. Sometimes it’s good not to know where you are headed, as preposterous as that sounds. It leaves the doors open for countless opportunities. If you become committed to a certain stream, you may realize further down the road that it is not the person you ever wanted to become. Think of it as a relationship. You can find yourself invested in someone (something) but you may end up becoming miserable, depressed, frustrated, and angry.
A simple break can be quite revitalizing.
In my experience, it was an unforgettable journey. At this point in my life, I heard the mortifying stories about students dropping out and pursuing another career path. But what I didn’t realize was the difficulties that students encountered who were unable to move on from what they initially started with. I never imagined that I would be on the verge of almost becoming that person.
Everything was going smoothly in the beginning. I was academically strong and managed to balance my social, educational and work commitments. It was not until my third year that I did poorly in Intermediate Accounting II. I should have known that I had no interest in accounting but I completely disregarded this as a wake-up call. I was blurred by the illusion. By then, I envisioned myself obtaining a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. I had also taken most of the CPA prerequisites at that point. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think failure should ever discourage one from their passion, but I had no drive in becoming an accountant. For the longest time, I had been justifying reasons for staying in the School of Accounting and Finance by reminding myself that “the benefits are substantial.” Luckily for me, life took a drastic turn in my fourth year.
Fourth year felt like a slap across the face. I absolutely hated it and loved it all at once. Everything was a disaster. It was the first time that I had to take five accounting courses. I cut down on my social life. I continuously studied and was constantly irritated by almost everyone. Aside from my academics, this was personally a very challenging year for me. I failed Intermediate Accounting III only because I arrived late to my exam. This failure took a huge toll on me, as I constantly nagged about it to my friends and family, I had nightmares about it and I even memorized the questions that were asked in the exam. I became obsessed and I could tell people were getting uninterested as they knew the next line I was going to say.
Enter March 2017: A wake-up call came to my rescue.
In my final semester, I still wanted to proceed with the CPA route even after my failure. I also wanted to be more engaged this semester. I decided to participate in the Ryerson Women in Leadership (RWIL) Voice Conference as a Case Competitor. It was a two-day event and I had four midterms back-to-back. And if you guessed it, yup, that’s right. I’m pretty reckless. But I’ve always wanted to be involved with that platform and I enjoyed the entrepreneurial aspect of the case. Not only was this a great experience, but it was beyond what I imagined because it changed my perspective about my career. I hadn’t felt that much enthusiasm and determination towards a project for a very long time. I realized my interest and gained a sense of direction as to where I wanted to head. All of this happened overnight and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Throughout my journey, I realized how much pressure students are faced with in an attempt to find themselves. If I had not come late to my exam, I would have pursued with the CPA designation (and I am 99.9% certain that I would have been miserable). I don’t think students should pressure themselves into pursuing a career in their major because they deem it as a “loss” if they don’t end up working in that field. Rather, it should be taken as a learning lesson.
Five important life lessons that I learned:
- Don’t pursue a career in your major for the wrong reasons: It’s okay not to pursue a career if one wasn’t fond of their major. Don’t go ahead with it for the sake of the time and money you spent towards it. You must realize that not all investments have a profitable outcome. Every so often one needs to go through the hurdles to come out stronger. Secondly, it is important to discuss your career goals with those that you trust, but don’t ever go forward with a career based on what family members, friends, professors, or the cashier in counter #4 want you to do. You must figure that out on your own.
- The monetary lifestyle is a sham: If the intention behind your career choice is solely the monetary rewards, you are on the path of obliteration. You may reach success financially but is that enough? Think about your own self-fulfillment. Remember that money is only a short-term reward to satisfy your needs. Don’t compensate your dreams for the sake of it. Secondly, don’t be fooled by the glamorous lifestyle in networking events. They can be quite misleading and they mostly emphasize the benefits of a certain career path, never the downfalls.
- Get outside of your comfort zone: Become engaged in extracurricular activities on campus. It is a great way to build connections. It will help you figure out more about yourself. Who knows, maybe an opportunity of a lifetime may just present itself.
- The beauty of the journey: It’s important to taste failure, as much as it is to taste success. I think the best part of the journey is to go through the obstacles and develop strategies to overcome it. Your personal experience in reaching your goal is what differentiates you from others, not the achievement itself.
- Ask yourself WHY you want to be a [insert occupation]. I feel as if this is the most important question that one must ask. If you are unable to answer this question, then you may be headed in the wrong direction. Ideally speaking, an occupation should represent a part of your personality so it’s important to reason why you are doing whatever it is that you are.
Current Song: “It All Feels Right” – Washed Out