Because Following Your Heart is a Cliché

In the midst of the political fiasco happening in my country, the inner political scientist in me awakens. With the barrage of alleged human rights violations attributed to the government, I can’t help to pretend to be an expert in this kind of subject. Pretend because in reality I am never near to that profession. Because in reality I am neither a political scientist nor a lawyer, I am a future computer engineer. I am on my third year studying different mathematical theories, programming codes and algorithms, circuits, computer systems, and all other things far from being a political expert.

Back in high school, I enjoyed the cheers and expectations of my friends that I will be lawyer in the near future. History, politics, and law are my fields of interest. I’m never fond of math, and to be straight forward, I never saw myself as an engineer. But things didn’t go the way it should be.

My parents can’t afford to have me take a pre-law course, and ultimately they can’t send me to law school. They urged me to take computer engineering because they think that it will enable me to earn well at the fastest time possible. Of course, we had some arguments but as it turned out I lost.

However it was not that really difficult to accept the situation, I also have some interest in computers though not as much as I liked reading history and talking about politics.

The first year in college was not so hard except for the myriad of different math courses (in the second semester I had to take three math courses at the same time). The real challenge came in the first semester of my second year. I took the first part of the calculus trilogy, Differential Calculus blew my mind.  I barely passed my quizzes; I even failed my preliminary exams. After a grueling four months of finding the derivatives of meaningless equations I passed, but then again as I have said it is a trilogy. My seniors often said that Integral Calculus is much easier than Differential, but I found out that it was a lie. Integral Calculus was the biggest challenge so far in my college life. It was the first time that I thought that I will fail. I failed almost every quizzes and exams; I can’t even earn a point. It was just hard for me, very hard. It led me to think, am I really for this?

During that time, I was also taking a course on Philippine History. I looked forward to it since the first year. It will be some sort of a reunion between me and my true love. Obviously the situation was different compare to my Integral Calculus. Not because history is much easier than math (I honestly think that it is a big misconception). It’s just that there’s an enthusiasm every time I attend my history class. An enthusiasm I never thought that I will feel in my calculus class.

But as the final days of the semester approached, I had some sort of an epiphany, a realization to which I credit my calculus professor for. He was an inspiring figure, who pushed his students to their outer limits to eventually realize their own hidden potential. Integral Calculus never change, it was still as difficult as it was before. But we changed. I changed. The doubt I had before turned into hope, hope that I will pass the course. I began to embrace calculus; I began to embrace computer engineering. Isn’t it a great irony that the class that made me doubt my existence in an engineering institution will be the one that will push me to strive harder, the one that will inspire me to keep moving forward, the one that will teach me to love the field I am now into.

“Follow where your heart is” is a cliché. People will always tell us that we should pursue the things we love. But that is not always the case, because while we are blindly following our hearts, we often overlook some of our potentials. There are a lot of people like me who found themselves lost in a field they are not interested in. It feels like our backs are on a wall and there’s no other way to get out. But if there’s no other way, probably the best way is the only way available.

I am a follower of the notion that “man is the master of his own fate”. But sometimes, thinking about what you are is more helpful than thinking about what you should be. As of the moment, I am focused on living in the moment. On defining who I am today, a computer engineer.

I still want to be lawyer. I still want to be an active voice in the middle of the sociopolitical upheavals that fill the local and international news. But let me take some little detour, because following your heart is a cliché.

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5 Replies to “Because Following Your Heart is a Cliché”

  1. Had a hunch by the time I got to the second sentence – hey, kababayan 😉

    I’m in the middle of a career shift myself. I guess it’s cultural in a way, how we’re convinced to take courses that will have the fastest turnaround in terms of income (and a bit of someone in the family having to follow in the parents’ footsteps or something).

    Found this through the Community Pool post, btw.

    1. Oh it’s nice to see a kababayan right here! 🙂

      Well I think being forced to take a career path which you don’t really love is very common in a third world country like the Philippines. It may not be ideal but I’m sure there’s somehow a couple of success stories about people who weren’t able to follow their hearts in exchange for better paying jobs/career.

      And you said that you’re in the middle of a career shift, I wish you all the best 🙂

  2. I studied engineering in college too, and while the liberal arts classes excited me in a way that the engineering courses never did (I particularly loved sociology and film), I never really considered taking them up as my full-time career—even when I failed the last of my university’s version of the calculus trilogy.

    I think it’s better that way, because now, I have something to be passionate about in my free time, that sometimes feels like a fulfilling second career.

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