One step at a time.
I love this quote from Theodore Roosevelt. I can relate on so many levels. All throughout my educational career, I strived to be the best. The very top of the class. I studied hard on every exam and never skipped class. Seeing that I got a better grade than my peers made me secretly happier. But when I didn’t perform so well, I would beat myself up for not spending that extra hour buried in my textbook.
During my younger years, I remember I loved shooting my arm up to answer the teacher’s questions. However, as the years progressed, I noticed I became more reserved. I was more self-conscious of what I wanted to say. Maybe it was just a growing up thing. Because when I got to college, there were definitely times when not a single brave soul in the entire 700-student auditorium wanted to raise his hand. But then again there were about a million eyes staring at you when you uttered one sentence, which just might have been a little bit nerve-racking.
With my diligent, hard-working personality, one would think that I must have grown up with “tiger parents.” Quite the opposite. My parents were not born or raised in the United States, and they do not speak English well. It was hard for them to find a job to hold up the family, and it was difficult for them to understand what my brothers and I were studying. All the pressure was put on me by myself. I wanted to be the best of my brothers and to prove to my parents that I could be “successful” and take care of them in the future. I attended the highest academically ranked high school in my city and went on to go to my dream college (the #1 public university in the U.S.), the same one my older brother attended. I’ve always wanted to be better than my brothers and to show my friends how smart I was. All of this comparison against other people ultimately led me to go down paths I was not necessarily passionate about. Ultimately, it did not make me a successful person or a very happy person.
Since my two brothers went into accounting, I thought it made sense that I tried out the business field. I quickly found out that wasn’t my forte. I could already sense the fierce competition in my first business class, but it wasn’t just any ordinary competition. It was the kind where people did not want to help others. They only cared about their own achievements and where they wanted to end up.
Later on, I decided to major in public health. Soon after, I took on the pre-med route as well, thinking it would be such a prestigious career and would make my whole family proud. I could imagine my parents talking on the phone with their friends, bragging about how their daughter had entered the medical field and of course comparing me to their friends’ children. I have now graduated from college, and I have never been this uncertain about my career path. Part of this is because I haven’t exposed myself to enough careers, and part of this is because I finally do not want to compare myself to anything or anyone else anymore. The only person I want to compare myself to is the person I was yesterday.