A few weeks ago, I was talking with a close friend about regrets in life. Specifically, how it was kind of hard at times to not feel envy when I see Facebook posts from friends off to London or Paris or NYC for grad school or work.
That easily could have been my life had I chosen to pursue a policy degree or an IR program. I had my life plan mapped out (in vague term): grad school at a prestigious university, a career path that would involve international travel, work at the UN or a similar body, writing insightful policy and opinion papers. But then I chose not to go down that road, because I came to the realization that for me, that kind of work would be intellectually stimulating but would not feel very purposeful. Having worked in NGOs before, and grown up around academic/political circles, I realized that I get frustrated with the constant talk and the perceived lack of action.
More than that, though, after working in the corporate world, I realized that I craved more activity in my work life. I desperately missed the connection I had with my students in Taiwan. Even on one of my worst days, I didn’t mind getting up and going to school because something made me smile. And so it was that I came to apply to library school. It’s also why I decided to not pursue acupuncture as a full-time career, because it would mean not working with kids.
I then told my friend how my projects this semester had helped reassure me that I am on the right path. It was such a tremendous rush of satisfaction knowing I’d created projects that the librarians needed and intended to use, and their gratitude more than made up for the hours of hard work and complaining I did while putting the projects together. I put together projects that had usefulness, that will impact students in tangible ways, something I struggled with as a speechwriter. It was extremely hard, wondering what, if any, greater purpose there was to what I was writing, if it really truly mattered beyond boosting the image of the company.
This path, the work I’m doing, it has meaning, and that means I made the right choice, and remembering that makes it easy to overcome those brief moments of envy.