My undergrad was in Kinesiology, but I always felt pushed into that major by my family. I enjoyed the material and had a great time, but felt like an imposter. My confusion started my senior year of High School. I chose to look into dentistry because my cousin is a DMD and I was interested in healthcare. But after a four-month internship with her, I realized it wasn’t for me, mainly because of the repetitiveness and the accuracy of the procedures. It was daunting. Then I looked at my sister, a Physical Therapist (PT), who is a very strong person physically and mentally. I thought maybe I could be like her, **flexing my wimpy muscles in the mirror** or maybe I could be a Physician Assistant **trying on my microbiology white lab coat in the mirror**. I gave it the old college try, but I realized my junior year, this isn’t the direction I wanted to go, but I still enjoyed healthcare.
I knew I still wanted to help people, but I didn’t know which direction. I took a year off after I graduated with my bachelor’s. I had a few melt-downs, panic attacks, and was all over the place with career ideas. I frantically searched for a career and looked into being a lawyer, nurse, ergonomics, or medical assistant. I allowed myself to grieve for several months while reflecting on my childhood, teenage years, and current situation. Then picked myself up and worked seven different jobs to search for what I was passionate about. I finally opened up and talked to a family friend about my situation. She told me about her friend who works at a senior home and how happy she was. I applied and took a job at that same senior home a month later. I saw PTs, Occupational Therapists(OT), and finally Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP). I watched all three work with the residents.
I knew I didn’t want to be in PT, because of my undergraduate experience. OT looked interesting but didn’t spark the joy I was searching for. Finally, when I watched an SLP it just clicked, I could do that! During this same time, coincidentally, my mom was in a pilates class and met a lady who was an SLP. She was so sweet and I bombarded her with questions. I realized I have what it takes to do that, and I will be great! None of this would have happened if I didn’t open up to my family friend and asked for help and advice, none of it.
I moved back home to Orange County from the Bay Area and did Chapman’s Post Bacc in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Chapman has always been my dream school since I was a kid because of the beautiful buildings and the alumni support. After completing the Post Bacc program, I did something crazy and only applied to one school, Chapman. Risky I know, I would recommend applying to more than one but I was positive I checked every box. One of my wiser friends convinced me to apply to an online school as a backup. The day after I got accepted from the online school I got accepted to Chapman. That was the moment I knew all of my struggles were for a reason and everything I went through was for a purpose. It may have taken me an extra few years to figure it out, but better late than never.
Now, every time I crack open my book to study, I feel like this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. It took me through the wringer but I finally found it. It’s like that fish that you had to fight to reel in. I would not have been happier anywhere else. It feels like destiny, but I remember the struggle, tears, and panic attacks. I learned it’s okay to change your mind and it’s okay to take time to figure out what you want. Because it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
What you shouldn’t do is feel pressured to jump into something right away because it’s what everyone is telling you to do or you don’t feel like you have a choice. I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel until you’re already there with one arm out. But you have to trust the process, let it guide you through ups and downs. And do your life homework by observing and communicating with people who have been through the process.
Have that big talk with your parents or loved ones. Because this is your life and every day you drive to your job, they won’t be there. When you have a bad manager or rough client, you’re on your own. When you’re about to retire from your career, it was you who did the hard work.
Be open and be willing to listen, but choose your own destiny.