In high school, we present senior exit projects to students, teachers, and other members of the community. These projects are a way for us to highlight our accomplishments, passions, goals and ambitions. One section, specifically, was to touch on our current career path. For me, I had no idea what I was doing other than where I planned to attend college. My post-high school plans had received very little attention, admittedly. As a result, I went out on a limb and chose physical therapy. The health field provides job security; I could graduate with a doctorate by 25-26 years old; I’d be making good money!
When I went to college, mine did not provide a physical therapy program; however, it had athletic training (AT). On a day-to-day, work basis, there is quite a bit of overlap of what athletic trainers (ATs) and physical therapists (PTs) do. The main difference is the setting, the hours and the pay. ATs in a high school or college/ university setting may easily work 50-70 hour weeks or more. PTs work regular schedules and make a significantly-greater amount of money. Logically, AT would be a good fit for me, however, to get myself prepped and qualified for PT school.
Fast forward 2.5 years and I’ve been studying AT which includes 150 hours per semester of clinical practice with high school, college, or clinic-based ATs. This usually means 15-25 hours per week of clinical hours on top of school and my practice schedule for running. I’ve been running on high octane with little freedom for anything that wasn’t school, clinicals, or running. Somehow, for those 5 semesters, I’ve managed and found success in each area of my life; but I’m tired.
I’m about to return from Winter break in a week and I’ve come to a tough decision. After hundreds of clinical hours and learning how to diagnose and rehabilitate injuries, I’ve realized AT, and more specifically, PT is not for me. One day, I had an epiphany and realized I don’t want to go back to school and pick this back up. I want something new, that excites me; I cannot see myself enjoying PT in 10 years.
After some search, I’ve looked into computer science. I took a coding class in high school and loved it. Additionally, I generally have been drawn to STEM subjects and have always enjoyed toying around with technology. It intrigues me. Plus, we’re only growing more dependent on technology – seems like good job security to me. It’s a broad field, which I enjoy, because it leaves me room to explore and not stay stuck 15 years from now in one place (some may say that leaves me nowhere to go also – my glass is half full, however).
Admittedly, I should have done more research before coming to this large conclusion, but I’m 21 right now and have no idea what I truly am going to do in 5 years or where I’ll be. Life is huge and I’m still learning; I realize that. I enjoy taking chances and I’m ready to leave PT behind me. I went into the registrar office and switched my major to computer information systems (CIS). CIS is very similar to computer science, but it requires less math and will get me out after my 6th year of college as opposed to my 7th year. It’s a compromise of what I’ll be studying, but I’d also like to finish college soon; I’m looking forward to starting the rest of my life.
Through all of this, my girlfriend and my parents have been huge supports for me. They’ve helped me search and figure out what I do and don’t like. They will hold me up when I need it. Next week, I’ll begin studying how to code in Visual Basic and Java. I’m nervous. I’m thrilled. I’m unsure. Regardless, I’m going to make it through and live a good life.
What do I want others to take from this? The theme of my blogs is that we all have problems, big or small, that can easily take hold of our emotions, attitude, and outlook on life. These problems can weigh us down and take away our happiness. I realized that PT was not for me. I’m not sure I’ll love CIS yet. I do know I need a change and my lifelong happiness is the most important thing in my life right now while I set my course for the rest of it. My first post highlight letting small things go. This one is meant encourage others to take leaps. They can be big or they can be small. I’m confident that I’ll find success and happiness in my life, because I won’t allow otherwise. With that being said, I find confidence in my decision and I can tell myself no worries. I’m still nervous, but I’ll take each day one at a time and make it work. Life always works itself out.
P.S. Some may think that it’s a shame I wasted so much energy and time studying AT and doing hundreds of clinical hours. I view it as a blessing. I’ve studied the subject so thoroughly that I’m confident leaving this path is the right one, regardless of where I’m headed now.