Choosing a major or career can be daunting, but sometimes the answer you’ve been looking for is right in front of your eyes.

When I was younger, I loved math. It was always my strongest subject, and it came so naturally to me, so I figured my future had to include math or else I was obviously setting myself up for failure. So it was decided; I’d be an engineer or accountant (but probably engineer). I made the mistake of limiting myself at an early age, and as it turns out, engineering is far from where my heart really lies.

The more I thought about my future career, the more I realized it wasn’t something I was passionate about. I had settled because that seemed easiest, but I should’ve known life isn’t ever that easy. At about age 11 I had my first mid-life crisis and scratched every plan I had ever made for my career, hoping to start over. At that point, one problem remained: where do I even be begin.

I thought back to my past and all my characteristics as a person, trying to find some pattern to work off of. And that led me to the world of health. I grew up an athlete and a clumsy one at that. Whether I was on the soccer field, the dance floor, or even in my living room, I always managed to hurt myself in the most peculiar ways. While this Achilles’ heel of mine was painful and annoying at most times, it was the gateway to finding my purpose. After every single incident, I always made an attempt to self diagnose the injury and come up with an obscure, usually wildly incorrect, treatment plan for it. Recognizing this seemingly insignificant “hobby” of mine made me realize I had an unspoken love and interest in health and rehabilitation.

Still, things were unclear and conflicting. I jumped back and forth between plenty of paths, from sports medicine physician to occupational therapist, to athletic trainer, to physical therapist. And while each career is rewarding in its own ways, I needed to find the perfect one for me. I recommend to anyone who is considering a certain career, go shadow someone for a day! I am so thankful I did because you’ll find out very quickly what is and isn’t right for you. I went to Stanford University for a summer to learn from MDs and ATs, and while it was an extremely fun experience, I couldn’t see myself in either of those positions for the rest of my life. I talked to my sister who was in an OT program and was able to rule that out as well. Finally, I volunteered at a local PT clinic and found my calling. I immediately fell in love with the environment I was in, getting to work with such a wide variety of patients and provide long term, meaningful care. Soon after, I witnessed my dad receive physical therapy after a heart attack, and I felt even more confirmed in my decision, understanding the ways in which PT has affected my own family. I even set aside my affinity for math and branched out to AP Biology and AP Chemistry, realized the sciences aren’t too shabby when you give them a fighting chance, and I have been eager on the path to becoming a DPT ever since.

Knowing what you want to do in life doesn’t always come at the snap of a finger, but pay attention to yourself and the subtle tendencies you display & signs you receive throughout your life. You may have it already figured out without realizing it!