Academic Self-Discovery: Learning to Fly

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”- Friedrich Nietzsche. I first read this quote my freshmen year of college and I understood it to mean that certain things take time and patience. Reading it now, I see it as one having to take multiple steps to reach whatever goal they have. Like Drake states, “we started from the bottom”. It can take time when you do not know what career choice is right for you and it can feel as if you’re running out of time when everyone else has it figured out. That is how it felt for me.

I have felt as if I wasted time in figuring out what I wanted to major in but thinking about it now I think I needed that time. It made me grow as a student. It helped me realize what classes I enjoyed and what classes I disliked which made me question if that major was the right one for me. What I had to learn was to focus on my own path instead of comparing myself to others and also explore just what occupations caught my interest. That is why I find it important to explore careers that intrigue me. That could mean taking classes on it or doing an internship because then I would actually get a feel for that job and see if I still like it.

For me, back in high school I wanted to explore music therapy because it was something different and not heard of which I thought was cool. I had looked up the field, the requirements and even spoke on the phone with a music therapist. The career was about having a way to heal others through the form of music. At that time I had recalled the ways music influenced my moods and outlook. If I was trying to motivate myself I would listen to something upbeat with encouraging lyrics. If I wanted to calm down I would listen to something soothing and if I was upset I would find songs that I felt communicated that emotion. The way music can touch others was just amazing to me and to find a career that applied it to treat patients that struggled with physical, emotional, and mental difficulties seemed like the right path for me.

I changed my mind later on as I mentioned in my last post. The reason for this could have been because I did not know how to play an instrument or that I realized I’m not that good of a singer. However, it was because of this exploration of music therapy that made me interested in physical therapy. Though physical therapy is more about helping patients with injuries and physical disabilities learn how to move and function, it is similar to music therapy in the sense of what mindset and attitude is necessary in treating the patient. They are both about compassion and encouragement. My next step in exploring this career path is to find an internship or volunteer to actually see how I would enjoy being in the environment of a physical therapist.

In my opinion, exploring different career paths is a great way for people going through academic self-discovery to broaden their ideas and interest in hopes of getting closer to the career that suits them. Explore.

Academic Self-Discovery: My Story

For some people, knowing exactly what occupation they want to go after is simple. They could even have it figured out from a young age. While for others, deciding what career path to follow is harder to do. Some reasons for this could be that they haven’t found their passion yet, that they feel obligated to do something they are pushed to do do; or that they decide on a job that allows them to make money while still in search of their dream job.

I am one of the latter. Before entering college I honestly had no solid career goal. Growing up I’ve always been pushed by my Caribbean family to go into the medical field because of financial success. Because of this, every time I’ve tried to construct a career goal, I make sure to make it involve something that is in that field. I did a summer program called ‘Upward Bound’ before my freshman year of college and I thought I would go to college to become a Music Therapist. I thought including something with music would fit- to compromise really- right into what I could enjoy doing for the rest of my life because I really love music. A little into my first year the thoughts of being a Music Therapist vanished. It changed to nursing because one thing I was always certain of was my passion to help others in some form. Not quite ready to be committed to nursing I changed my major to Liberal Arts and Science (still keeping nursing on the table but open to other careers in science). It wasn’t until a few months ago at CSTEP, a program here at City Tech that I was asked questions that really made me hone in on just where I could see myself career wise. Questions like “What ways do I see myself helping people?” allowed me to settle on two responses. One was becoming a Physical Therapist and the other a writer.

English has always been my favorite subject. As a child I enjoyed writing stories and throughout highschool I read and even wrote stories online. Writing online meant a lot to me because of the feedback I received from complete strangers that actually liked what I wrote. That was incredible to me because it was the first time I was really putting my craft out there for people to criticize and they in turn gave back positive reinforcement. My last two semesters in English have really brought back my love for writing. In the Fall of 2015 I took Intro to Fiction (2001)- I liked Intro to Fiction because I felt I got better as a writer and thinker due to having to revise my essays until my professor liked it enough. I also liked it because my final paper for that class won first place for the Literary Arts Festival in 2016. After that class I took Expressions of Identity (ENG 2190) and that course made me question and observe my surroundings with new perspective. It made me feel at home as well as growth.

I think the key to finding what career path one wants to follow is trying different things and analyzing if it is something that brings out the passion and curiosity. To me, that is what academic self-discovery is all about; to learn what gets you motivated. It might take some time for some and that is okay. What matters is getting to that point.