When I graduated high school, I wanted to be a journalist and a photographer on the side. Maybe even a photojournalist. I wasn’t sure but all I knew was that I loved writing for the school newspaper and no other career path really intrigued me. So with barely 18 years on this earth, I took the plunge into what I was guessing I wanted to be my career for the rest of my life.
I went through the ups and downs of college and I found that with each passing week I began to hate my choice more and more. The real world newspaper industry was heavily different from my high school newspaper and I didn’t like what I was doing or what I saw. I did internships in an office setting where I sat from nine to five typing articles. Eventually, my love for words and the way they tasted painfully died and I no longer had any passion for what I once considered an art. MY art.
Then on graduation day, I all but snatched my diploma and ran out of there as fast as I could and vowed to never turn back. I didn’t cry because I would miss my friends or because I just made an incredible accomplishment. I cried because I wouldn’t have to hate what I was doing anymore. I didn’t want to look at another newspaper again. I didn’t pick up a book for pleasure anymore. My camera collected dust on the shelf.
My parents were confused and upset that all of a sudden I hated my degree, one that I had spent four years and a house’s worth of money for. Did I have a bad teacher? Did I have a really bad experience? Was I raped? Why did I all of a sudden hate the one thing I told everyone I wanted to do?
A month or two after I graduated, I found a kickboxing instructor position. It was a job I was excited about though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time. I started kickboxing when I was a junior in high school and it was always something that I had loved. A few months into this new job and I realized how happy I was. I loved helping people and having a direct effect on their lives. I had a purpose, something I didn’t feel in college.
I decided to turn my life in a whole new direction and go after my personal training license. It was a decision my entire family was weary of and a decision that I was terrified of.
I didn’t care.
I went after it anyway and went full throttle towards my other dreams too. During college, I created His First Mate. This blog was something that was all my own creation. It has helped others and has saved me in its own way. No newspaper editor could trash it or change it. My writing and art was suddenly mine again.
So, every Sunday and Monday I would carry my backpack full of equipment and study the ways of the body and write for my blog. I spent countless hours in the same seat, at the same Starbucks, drinking the same drink but dreaming up all the new and fresh possibilities I now held.
A year flew by and now I’m the assistant manager at my job. Last week, I passed my personal training test. I photograph private events whenever I get the chance. Watching His First Mate grow is like watching your child grow. I created this thing and had no idea what I was doing and then one day I looked down and had this beautiful, ever-growing creation in front of me.
During college, I never thought this happiness was possible. So, take this advice and do what feels right in your life and everything will fall into place. My love for writing and photography has come back full force and has found its own place in my life. I am fulfilled every day I walk into my gym and coach people to becoming better than they were yesterday. And it is all because I followed what felt right for me.
Not what felt right for my teachers in school. Not for my parents or for any of my family or my friends. Just my own personal satisfaction.
Because, you see, life is short. People, young and old, sick or healthy, die every. damn. day. There is no shame in wanting to be a ballerina and an astronaut and then maybe a waitress. The way I see it, there is one life that I am sure of. One chance I have to experience and be everything that I want to experience and be.
Not one person on this earth is going to hold me back from that and no one should hold you back from that either.
Go be what you want and do what you want. If that means quitting your job that is making you unhappy or going back to school for something new then go do that. Maybe that means having three career paths and things that you love. Go live your life and don’t apologize for it.