It was the first day of primary school, and my teacher asked everyone of us to tell her what we aspired to be. I kid you not, 90% of my class said ‘Doctor’. And then there was me, the plump, enthusiastic kid who proudly stood up and said ‘Commercial Pilot’.
Travel has always fascinated me. The thrill of seeing a new place, of fast-paced airports and the taking-off of planes have always given me some sort of ‘high’. And ever since my first flight, where I was fortunate enough to be allowed to enter the cockpit, I knew where my heart lay – in the cool, ‘multiple-buttoned’ confines of the airplane cockpit. I’d never felt as happy as I did inside a cockpit. And the multiple flights where I’d been allowed to enter one only fueled my desire to become a pilot.
On the last day of school, we were asked again, and our answers remain unchanged. I worked hard for my board exams and got into a reputed college in the city to pursue Science apart from practicing on the Flight Simulator game on the computer almost every day and watching as many Aeronautical shows as I could, one step closer to my ‘Dream job’.
When my 12th grade results came in, I got satisfactory results, but not really high enough to what I had aimed for. Yet, I still set about trying to achieve my cherished dream of being a pilot by trying enroll in an Aviation Academy. The responses I was met with were ‘Your scores are not sufficient’ or ‘We do not have any vacancies’.
It was around the same time when the job situation for Commercial Pilots was at its absolute worst. Articles about certified Pilots lying idol for years together were splashed across almost all leading dailies. And as each day passed, I felt more and more exhausted chasing a ‘dream with no visible future’ – as said by two certified Pilots in my family itself.
I expected a few bumps on the way , but the pain of being rejected by every Academy I applied to was too much to bear. And being the melodramatic person I am, I went to the extent of locking myself up in my room for almost two days, devastated at the decision I had to make – either continue pursuing a lifelong dream, or choosing another path altogether.
Guess what I did. I choose the latter. And here I am today pursuing something that I was always passionate about, yet trying to find my way in the big, bad world of Journalism. My writing was mostly personal, yet something I loved doing.
All through school and college, my Mathematics and Science grades have sometimes taken a severe beating. But my grades in English stood strong. I was always one of the most calm and collected people before an English exam. I had one of the highest grades, and even on a tight deadline, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I took up a Bachelor’s Degree and graduated with a double-major in English Literature and Psychology. In all honesty, I am no Literature buff. I’m not charmed by the Classics and I was probably the only person in class to not have nice things to say about Shakespeare. I could have easily taken up a Mass Media course instead. But I wanted to learn more, I wanted to keep an open mind. I then moved on to pursuing a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism, and it was the most rewarding experience of my life. I learnt everything I needed to know and the course had me feeling equipped and ready to take on this career. At the end of my course, I bagged a two-month internship with a reputed travel magazine.
Life never hands it to us easy, you go through bumps and deep ditches only to learn how to pick yourself up and start over. Believe me, I know what it’s like. I thought I gave up too soon, but it was a decision that turned out to be what’s best for myself. The aircraft will always be my first love, and it was excruciatingly painful to abandon a dream I held onto for 15 long years. Yet I survived and I haven’t looked back since.
I find myself quite proud being a Journalist. It’s a bold career to get into and not many have what it takes to make it. Travel Writing is the goal, but right now I’m just taking each day as it comes, which you should do too. As for the 90% of ‘Doctors’ in my class, they’re either Architects, Interior Designers, Fashion Stylists or Chartered Accountants, to name a few. Each one of them with flourishing careers. So for all of you who find yourself in the same shoes I was in, or even if you are looking for a career change but not sure what and how, you really should know (and I wish I told myself back then):
- It is not the end of the world. Trust me, it gets better.
- Your parents are proud of you no matter what. I thought my parents would be the most disappointed, but they were my best cheerleaders.
- Find out what excites you. It could be a hobby, a sport, or even something you like to indulge in occasionally. Or in my case, something that you were always good at, but overlooked.
- Make a list of alternative career options. It could be something that occurred to you in passing, or something you saw on TV. If it’s feasible, go for it!
- If the particular career you wanted does not get you into the college of your choice, your alternative options might get you into an even better and more reputed college.
- Don’t let anyone get to you. Whether it’s that distant relative telling you how your other options won’t get you enough money to take care of your family or that neighbor from downstairs who is silently judging you! Easier said than done, but once you’re not fazed by other people’s opinions, you’ll feel more confident of your decision.
- Make sure whatever you’re taking up is something you’re passionate about. You can’t leave work at the end of the day feeling like you lead a miserable life. Above money, your job should be personally rewarding.
- Your failures only make you hungry for success all the more. Having said that, not getting into your desired-career line doesn’t mean you’re a ‘failure’. It just means that the job you’re truly destined for still awaits you.