I’ve finally done it. I’ve completed my final term of my undergraduate degree, and each “last” was a roaring triumphant victory: turning in my last paper, completing my last lab, writing the last word on my final exam. As I pushed through these last months, I have been so wrapped up in reaching the finish line that I gave little thought to what I truly want to do after it was all over. Since I was a kid, I constantly flip-flopped between what I wanted to be when I grew up, always trying to pick “real” jobs. When I was in kindergarten and probably up until the age of seven, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals. Then, when I was eight, I thought I’d make a good teacher (probably because the idea of eventually being able to boss around a bunch of kids seemed like a fun idea). When I was nine, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to do something fun. From the age of ten to twelve, I considered veterinary work again on and off. At thirteen however, my dad brought me to several of the Introductory Psychology night lectures he was taking at York University and I was so genuinely enraptured by the intricacies of human behaviour; on those few visits, I’d bring a notebook with me and take notes like the other university students, even though I undoubtedly stood out like a sore thumb among the adult students. I decided then that I would do something psychology-based.
High school began, and I decided I should be a doctor. A pediatric oncologist, which I probably decided because it sounded fancy and also because I felt like I was emotionally stable enough to treat children dying of cancer. By my senior year of high school, I knew this was not the case (I refused to take chemistry) and I revisited the idea of psychology. Somehow, amidst all of these ever-changing career paths, I never once allowed myself to consider one in the subjects that I excelled most in, and that gave me a genuine sense of excitement to learn more: English and history. I realized as I applied for universities that I would be happiest in a literature major, or even skipping post-secondary altogether and just writing for the rest of my days, but I was told by too many people and consequently convinced myself that this isn’t a “real” job. Plus, I found it was reasonable to have a back-up career. So I married the fascination incited in me by my dad’s psychology classes along with my adolescent idea of becoming a doctor, and decided that I would pursue a PhD in clinical psychology to eventually become a psychologist for terminally ill children.
One university change (from the University of Waterloo in first year to Ryerson University in second year) and several science courses halfway into my degree, I realized that I was not cut out for a PhD in psychology not necessarily because my grades weren’t as amazing as I had hoped they would be, but because I lacked interest in the material (remember the chemistry courses I refused to take in high school? That came to bite me in the ass in university, when I had to take multiple chem-based courses). Anything that deviated from learning about human behaviour eventually came to bore me; I felt bombarded by course after course that I did not want to take and an increasing desire to just do what made me happy, not what I thought would pay me really well.
Nonetheless, after sinking thousands upon thousands of dollars into a university education, I felt that I needed to do some sort of postgraduate work with my psychology degree. Enter Teacher’s College (which I’ve written about in the past, back when I was still trying to figure everything out). This was something I truly felt (and still feel) like I could have been good in, but it was a cop-out from doing what I actually want to do.
I don’t want to live my life waking up for work day after day, simply because I have to make ends meet or need to pay my rent/mortgage. I want to do something that makes me excited to get things done, that I don’t feel is a “job” that I must do. I want to write (however that talent of mine may manifest in a given career choice) and I want to be creative.
When I got my rejection letter from the University of Toronto, which I had applied to for Teacher’s College for, I won’t deny that I threw myself across my bed and sobbed for close to an hour, filled with self-pitying thoughts about how I’m not good enough for the Canadian version of an ivy league school, and how my life was going to be meaningless without the program I wasn’t even 100% sold on. After discussing it with several of my friends, I found myself on Ryerson’s continuing education site (despite vowing to myself that I’d never step foot in my school again after graduation, because I was so sick of it), and genuinely thrilled to come across a marketing certificate program that seems to fit everything I want to do, plus can be considered a “real job”. I had never really considered it before, but the thought of only having to do a certificate program while still able to work full-time satiates all the desires I currently hold in regards to kick-starting my adult life:
- Utilizes my psychology degree in a way that I would enjoy;
- Because the program runs in evening courses, it allows me start working full-time and thus, pay my own rent (I can afford to move out!!);
- I can still pursue some sort of education after completing my undergraduate degree, but most importantly;
- I have the chance to work in a career that allows me to fully embrace my creative nature, while also having opportunities to write
I felt very lost for a while, and was constantly in a state of confusion over my life. To some extent, it still does scare me that I have to start being an adult now; it’s funny to think how I have legally been one for the past (nearly) five years, but I am only now starting to feel the weight of this implication. I feel that it’s time for me to move out on my own not just because I know so many people my own age doing so, but because I feel the emotional and mental need to. I’ve realized that I really need my own space. There are some adult responsibilities I’m definitely not ready for right now (namely marriage and kids), but I think these foundational big steps are putting me on the right track toward feeling some semblance of living an adult life. I can’t go on forever feeling nervous about moving forward with my life and earning degree after degree to avoid having to start living… Nor do I want to.
For the first time, I feel genuinely excited and comfortable in the future I’ve laid out for myself, and as if I can make a life for myself from this foundation.