Study what you love

This particular experience that I’m posting to my blog is the one that inspired the creation of this blog in the first place. It’s what changed me as a person and opened my eyes to the real world; I’d say that it was my first, real big mistake in life, with seriously big consequences… It’s a little long, so please bear with me. Here goes.

As a first-year university student almost done her first year, I’ve been through so many ups and downs and new experiences that came with university. After moving away from a sheltered home to a whole new environment with unlimited freedom, I unfortunately made the wrong choices.

It all started before university, actually, with my university application. When trying to choose my future career, the only thing I had in mind was a path that would be the quickest way to graduating and earning lots of money. The only jobs I even considered were ones that earned at least 100k or more, and had less than 5 years of post-secondary education. That’s how I ended up applying to Accounting.

I know this sounds really shallow and despicable, and I agree, but I was naive at the time and thought that I could do anything. Growing up, I always had high marks, without putting in 100%  of the effort, and so I somehow got the idea in my head that life would be just as easy. I figured that I would study those 5 years, get good grades, get an awesome co-op job, and graduate to become a Chartered Accountant at one of the Big Four. I would make lots of money, pay off my university debt, and be able to do all the things I wanted to do in life, like travel the world, buy luxurious items, and live in a beautiful house in the city. Money would never be an obstacle to being able to pursue my dreams and do the things I wanted.

Boy, was I wrong.

I got accepted to all 5 universities that I applied to, all of them quite prestigious and well known programs for accounting, and accepted my offer to the most competitive and prestigious one of them all. Thus begins the experience that changed my outlook on life.

All throughout first-year, I noticed that I no longer stood out. There were others as smart as me, and many others even smarter. As a student who was always substantially above the class average in high school, I found myself substantially below the program average in university. I was doing terrible and actually failed some midterms–and by fail, I don’t mean 60%–I mean below 50%. I became depressed about school and was beginning to think that I was actually dumb and that I didn’t belong here in university, but the truth of the matter was: I didn’t put in enough effort.

It wasn’t just one thing that caused this. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this actually.

First, during the first term of university, I met A LOT of new people; one boy in particular, who I started to kind of like. I thought he was different: smart, helpful, funny. Sometimes when we talked about things that he liked, I could see the passion in his eyes and excitement in his voice. I saw a different side of him that he had when he wasn’t with his bros. I spent a lot of time with him and his friends, and put my schoolwork second. Being able to spend time with him was my first priority. I stayed up hours past my bedtime (let’s just say 4am was considered early) just to be with him, but eventually we started to drift apart. I don’t want to get too into detail since that’s not the point of this post, but when 2nd term came, he was no longer a big part of my life. I’d wasted all that time that I could have used to study, but in a way, it was a good experience and life lesson learned. I don’t regret the time spent with him, as it made me really happy, but at the same time, I know now not to devote your life to someone else, especially if it’s going to harm your education. I learned to be less dependent.

Second, and most importantly, by 2nd term, I’d finally realized that I’d chosen the wrong program. After receiving my marks from first term, my heart sank. I’d gotten two marks above 70%, but everything else was mid-60s or lower; I’d even gotten a 58%. I figured it was because I didn’t spend enough time studying, and was being too social, so I promised to fix it for 2nd term. Unfortunately, I did work harder at the beginning, but as the term went on, I put things off again and fell behind. I procrastinated because I didn’t want to do the work. I found it boring, uninteresting, and hard. Everyone around me was so ambitious and really passionate about the program, and I felt like I didn’t fit in at all. My marks weren’t as high as them, I never wanted to go to any of the networking sessions that the program held, and I generally just viewed myself as a failure. I failed 2 midterms, passed one by 2%, and didn’t know what I was doing when it came to the assignments because I hadn’t kept up with the classes.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my average up to stay in the program, but I know now that I no longer want to. I’m not blaming my first-year failure on solely the fact that I wasn’t interested in what I was studying, but also because of my mistake regarding time management and lack of effort spent on schoolwork. Coming to university was a BIG change, and unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to adjust to that change quick enough. But I tend to look at this grave mistake as a very important life lesson. It was just what I needed to wake me up to the real world and discover who I was as a person. All of this contributed to my final realization that I had made a HUGE, irreversible mistake… and I wanted to fix it.

I started looking into programs at other universities in a field that I was actually passionate about: graphic design. My whole life, I’d loved the arts; especially digital arts. I’d first gotten exposed to digital media in grade 6 and made pixels using Microsoft Paint. In grade 7 I was introduced to Photoshop, and that’s what I still use to this day to edit my photography and create graphics.

As I grew up, I remember constantly getting compliments on my creations, from family, friends, teachers, and even strangers online. I should have paid attention to these comments as they showed what I was actually good at in life, and my real, true talent, but I was too worried about money and being successful.

But I know that now, after re-evaluating myself a person, and I want to do something I love. I want to be able to love what I study, because then I truly will be happy in life. I want to be able to be proud to tell people what my job is, and actually be able to tell them why I’d chosen the program I’m studying. I’d heard it a million times: “Do what you love,” but I’d never really fully understood it until now. Study what you love, and hard work will naturally follow. If you love what you’re studying, you’ll be more interested in it and find it easier to study for. You’ll learn what it is that you actually want to learn, and be able to apply that to what you love later.

Ask yourself, “why did I choose this program?” If you can answer that true-heartedly, you’re already on the right path. I remember when people asked me why I chose accounting, I could never give them a full answer. I always gave them a half-hearted lie: “Oh… I really like math” was all I could muster. I was always complaining about accounting, and people would always ask me why I was even in accounting then, and that’s when I realized… Why was I in accounting? It was for the money, but it definitely wasn’t something I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life. I’m really glad that I realized this before putting myself through another 4 years learning solely about accounting, and devoting my life to long hours in the office doing auditing.

If you’re still with me at this point, I just want to thank you for taking the time to listen to the words of a regretful student. If there’s one thing I really want you to take away from this post, it’s to first, choose to study something that you love, not for the money. If you’re really passionate about what you’re studying, you’ll want to work extra hard at it, and money will naturally follow. And second, set your priorities straight. School is more important, as it’s the key to your future. Don’t make my mistake and slack off and fall behind. The consequences are extremely tough, tougher than you could ever think, and it will be the biggest regret of your life. I’m still here hoping that I haven’t messed up my life and praying that someone will give me second chance to prove myself.

Just remember that this is your life. Do what makes you happy. As cliche as it sounds, you will be a lot more satisfied with your life if you do what you want. If accounting is what makes you happy, DO IT. But it just wasn’t the right path for me. Don’t make the same mistake as me and choose something just for the money, because it will most likely be the most brutal year of your life.

So thank you so much for listening, and I wish you all the best of luck.

Stay true to yourself,
Emily

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