When I graduated high school four years ago and enrolled at Eastfield, I had no idea what to choose as a field of study.
I thought getting my core classes out of the way would give me time to figure things out in regards to my career.
Then one day, my parents and my aunt suggested I go into the medical field. I was hesitant when it came to choosing nursing, but I figured trying radiology would impress them and make them proud of me.
The next school year I started taking electives at El Centro that prepared me for the medical field.
It was actually pretty difficult because according to my professors, I had to remember every medical procedure and other important medical information for future references. Despite all that, I kept telling myself that I would get through it. My third year was when things started to take a turn.
The time was coming for me to apply for the radiology program at El Centro, but I was becoming very unhappy with where I was. The situation came to a point where I hit a state of depression and stress. I had rough nights trying to fall asleep thinking of my future and what my whole family would say or do to me if they found out the truth.
I even distanced myself from my parents, who noticed I was not acting like my usual, talkative self. My aunt from my dad’s side also noticed that I was not acting like my usual self – talkative and bright.
That’s when I opened up to my cousins: I no longer wanting to move forward into the medical field. They told me I should not continue my paperwork to apply for the program if I’m feeling so miserable about it. I remember one of them telling me that we all have our own struggles and that what really matters is how we handle them.
One day at work, it also struck me that one of my co-workers had taken a semester off so that she could figure out what she wanted to do for a career. I told her about my current situation and she told me that I should probably take a year off. This way I could find something I like, come up with a plan and go for it.
I told her I felt embarrassed in comparison to my former classmates and friends who were getting ready to graduate. Another co-worker who was present during the conversation told me to not compare myself with others.
Growing up in a strict Asian family, I knew family members and close family friends would question my decision. I realized that my own happiness was most important and that what others say about me should not matter. This gave me the courage to finally confront my parents who, to my surprise, were calm and understanding about it.
During my time off last spring, I looked into three of my greatest passions – fashion, photography and writing – and considered the jobs they offered. I found what I wanted to do and shared the plan with my parents. I wanted to major in journalism to become a travel writer.
While some might see my experience as wasted time, I choose to focus on the valuable lessons I’ve learned.
Know yourself well enough to find your career path.
Do not live by other people’s expectations.
You deserve to be happy and enjoy what you are doing for the rest of your life.
— Ritchie Manalastas is a contributor and a journalism major