Before your 18th birthday, you’re expected to know exactly what you would like to do for your career and the rest of your life. My problem? I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I was passionate about too many things but was never confident enough in my abilities (even though everyone telling me otherwise). Despite the fact that my mom encouraged me and my brother to take up to 2 years to work before attending college/university, I refused to. I didn’t want to take the time; I felt ready for university even though I had no clue what I wanted to do for a career.
Even though I wasn’t fully sure what I wanted to do, it didn’t stop me from applying to universities. Despite my original interest in becoming a photographer, graphic designer, or chef, I defaulted to asking about English and creative writing at university fairs. Looking back, I probably did this because it was the only thing I felt confident in. English and creative writing was something I enjoyed and considered myself to be good at. So, I thought, Why not?
I ended up applying to Western, Brock, and Waterloo. After getting acceptances for all these programs, I decided to do a university tour to figure out where I wanted to go. But I only ended up doing the tours at Waterloo and Western. I never got around to seeing the Brock campus but I don’t feel like I needed to. Once I stepped foot on Western’s campus, I knew that it was exactly where I wanted to go. (It helped that I got my acceptance that evening.)
Without looking back, I decided that I was going to become a book editor for trade fiction. But when I started to figure out the courses that I needed to graduate, I started to freak out because the BREADTH requirements for the Arts & Humanities department was a full credit in science. Of course, I started to freak out. But my anxiety didn’t last long. Soon after this discovery, I was told that computer science courses counted towards that requirement. Shortly after I started looking at courses, I learned that one of the types of computer science involved graphic design and website creation. Score!
When I started at Western, I was preparing to have enough credits so that I could do a Masters in teaching for high school for English and History. But, I quickly learned that history classes (or at least the ones I was interested in) weren’t taught at the learning speed or style that I thrived in. So, after nearly failing a history course, I decided that there was no point stressing over a subject for something I only intended to use as a backup.
So I dropped the “I’ll become a teacher” idea and focused my electives on computer science and extra writing classes. At the time, I didn’t realize how invaluable these skills were until I started studying Publishing: Book, Magazine, and Electronic at Centennial College. My background knowledge from high school (communications technology) and university (computer sciences) paid off immediately in my new program. I had a leg up in our design classes as well as a digital publishing class where we were taught to use HTML.
I was able to use my skills and background to get the position of Creative Director for On the Danforth, a magazine run and created by the students of my program. This is when I really started to rethink what I should do for a career. Yes, I had chosen the program to become a book editor (along with most of my class) But the more I learned about publishing, the more I realized that editing probably wasn’t the ideal career for me. I mean, I still love editing and writing more than anything but it no longer felt like the right choice for me.
When I really started to think, I realized that, to me, being an editor as the path of least resistance. I was confident in my writing skills and my ability to improve my writing skills. I didn’t have the same confidence in my photography and graphic design skills. But the more I interacted with people, used the program, and worked on a magazine, I realized that there was nothing that I wanted to do more than publication design; I just didn’t have the faith in myself to take the leap. To take the chance in a career I wanted. To put aside my anxiety and low self-esteem telling me that I wasn’t good enough for this type of job.
When I accepted this, everything fell into place. I now know that I’m supposed to be a designer (despite the round-a-bout way that brought me here). I may have doubted myself many times along the way. But life sort of just showed me the way. And made me realize that nothing makes me happier than opening InDesign and Photoshop. Designing gives me drive and a purpose—one that would be harder for me to find if I had stuck with my original plan to be an editor.
Today I started my internship at House & Home media in the art department. As I sat at my station, working away at my first tasks, I knew that this is where I was supposed to be. Despite all the twists, turns, and the self-doubt, I know that I’m exactly where I am supposed to be. I still can’t believe that I never chose my career; it chose me first.
How did you stumble upon your career path?