Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ability Does Not Mean Obligation

Ability does not mean Obligation.

For example, I have the ability to be a civil engineer. In fact, I have a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, but that by no means obligates me to become a civil engineer (even though I could potentially be a darn good civil engineer ;). Actually, I am capable of being a great many things. Becoming a civil engineer was one of the original plans I had made for myself, but those plans have since changed.

Let's go further back in time...
Before the plan of becoming a civil engineer, I wanted to become a fashion designer; it was my dream thoughout middle school, until one day my mother informed me that I would not get credit for my work. Thinking that I would not have my name on my line of clothing subsequently killed the dream. So I went on to finding another path... which brought me to pursue a math-related career. My math teacher at the time repeatedly uttered "If you like math, then be an engineer." So I researched engineering via my parent's encyclopedias, because I had no idea what an engineer was or did for a living. After reading the brief descriptions of the many subfields of engineering, I still had only a faint idea about what they did all day. Reading about civil engineering resonated with me... Building a structure like a sky scraper or a bridge seemed ambitious and respectable! I could leave my mark on the world.

Off to college I went,,, an ambitious young woman bent on becoming an engineer, and eventually starting my own engineering firm, and then retiring as an engineering professor some day. That was the plan. As you emerse yourself in any culture, engineering included, you begin to learn the jargon/lingo and its other little intricacies... I soon found out that Structural Engineers (who build sky scrapers and bridges) often spend most of their time shut up in an office doing calculations. Through attending college and becoming a slightly more social person, being shut up in an office all day didn't sound appealing to me. Despite my uneasiness about this prospect, I finished my degree.

Soon after graduating, I discovered that... perhaps I no longer wanted to work as the invisible gears of the moving vehicle that is society. There are people with master's degrees applying for jobs that they are overqualified for. The engineering job market is flooded (which is something that I had not anticipated). Why should I compete for something that I have little remaining interest in? My heart wouldn't be in it. I chose to see the opportunity that awaits me, despite the difficult market that we currently live in. There is no better time than now - right now - to do what I want to do with my life.

Today, I love my freedom, and I love being in charge. It only makes sense that I would create my own path in life. Not being a quote "professional" in a blouse and slacks (I rarely wear dresses or skirts, by the way) does not make me any less valuable as a working person. Decidedly, my path in life has taken a different turn than was anticipated. I have learned to deal with the change and the subsequent alterations to my outlook on my life, plans, and goals. As a result, I also have to learn to deal with people's expressed perceptions of my work, beit positive, negative, true or false. People can think whatever they want. Perhaps part of the new job that I have taken on is going to be creating value for my profession and changing people's perception of what it is I do. Let it be known... I enjoy a challenge. Bring it on! :)

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, my story inspires you to follow your dreams and passions in life, beit in a big or small way. I try my best to pursue my own happiness. I hope that you find happiness too. It's the best thing in life. (That's my opinion anyway.) Have an awesome day! ;)