Rethinking my future

January 12, 2011 § 11 Comments

Here I am, awake at 11:30pm, brain buzzing, heart racing, unable to fall asleep. This has been me for the past few days. As the days till the start of my second semester of senior year is getting cruciatingly close, I become a nervous wreck. The thoughts of schoolwork, research, and the high amount of stress are just overwhelming me right now. You are probably reading this and thinking, “Oh, yeah, that’s normal. That’s exactly like me when I have to go back to work after a long vacation.” But no, what I’ve realized is that what I am doing in college is not what I want to be.

I’ve grueled through one semester of intense neurobiology research, and yet another semester to come. I do not particularly hate it, neither do I particularly like it, but it brings immense stress on my part. All throughout high school, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in biology-related fields. That sort of continued through the first and second year of college. And then research came, and I was no longer that interested. I’ve grueled through two semesters and two summers of intense research, and yet another semester to come. I do not particularly hate it, neither do I particularly like it. It just brings immense stress on my part.This is not what I want my life to be. If I had disliked it so much just for a couple of semesters, I would most certainly destroy myself if I put myself through grad school or become a research assistant.

The end of college is a period when most people start to think seriously about their future–what they want to pursue as a career, whether to receive even higher levels of education, etc. I think I’ve stressed about this so much this past semester that I won’t be surprised if someone were to find white hair sprouting amongst my head of black.

Here it is, my internal struggle. I have come so far in the field of biology, attending a prestigious college known for its excellent liberal arts and science program, ideal students-to-teacher ratios, and the rare opportunities to work in research labs that more often than not require skills and knowledge of a grad school students. My parents have paid so much money to put me into this school, because I believed biology was for me. I guess in a way I’m your typical Asian kid–wanting to study hard in school, get good grades, have extracurricular activities, graduate with several degrees up my sleeves and with honors, get jobs as enginners, lawyers, doctors, scientists, blah blah blah. As I grew older, however, I’ve uncovered that I am not this person.After four years, I’ve come to realized my heart is not in biology, after all.

Where is my heart? Yoga.

Some people might smirk at the idea of this, thinking that a yoga teacher is somewhat like your PE teacher in high school. Perhaps, if your idea of a yoga teacher is someone from your local gym who guides you through some poses with a yoga video playing in the background. But a good yoga teacher is so much more than that. He (in order to simply things, I am just going to use he….after all, yoga did start out being practiced by men only in India) is wise, insightful, physically and mentally healthy. The thing about yoga is that there is no perfection. You can and are always striving to improve, whether in your poses, your pranayama (breathing techniques), or your way of living. Once committed, it’s a practice that sticks with you throughout your life every single day.

Summer and winter breaks are the only times during which I can really devote myself to yoga. Back in Taiwan with the good ol’ yoga studio in which I first fell in love with yoga, with the teachers that have walked this journey with me the past four and a half years, and with no school work to worry about. Each time I make this trip back home, my feelings towards yoga grow stronger and stronger. It’s a passion that’s never been dimmed or doused. It grows stronger with each practice, and with each accomplishment.

True, being a yoga teacher is not your regular stepway to success and wealth. But that is the spirit of yoga. It is not a religion, but like every religion, you are devoting yourself to it not because it will gain you wealth and success, but because you believe in that it will make you and the people around you better human beings. I have seen how yoga has changed me throughout the years, made my body stronger, my mind healthier, and my appreciation to nature and to people greater. I want to spread this enlightenment to more people, and through teaching, I know I can do that. Indeed, I am only beginning my journey and with many more such enlightenments to come as I deepen my study, but sages have not always been sages; it is through experiences and years that they are as knowledgeable as they are.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so sure about anything in my life. I believe I have the potential to be a great teacher, and I will let that notion be my guide and encouragement as I pursue yoga. Will I be including anything else in my life and career besides yoga? Only time can tell. When the right moment comes, my heart will tell me.

12:10 am. Now that I’ve spilled my thoughts out, perhaps I can finally fall asleep.

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§ 11 Responses to Rethinking my future

  • kat says:

    I say you need to follow your heart. You don’t want to be unhappy and wishing you had done something else. You don’t want to have regrets in life, especially one that you could have easily changed

  • It can be so scary to step off the path you set for yourself but I can tell how much you love yoga, just from how you wrote about it here. I agree with the previous comment you need to follow your heart. You may not be rich but you may be happy and that is far more important in my mind. Good luck!

  • Hi Elaine,

    I can’t remember how I stumbled onto your blog but I wanted to introduce myself, hi I’m Lauren šŸ™‚

    I can really relate to your situation, I’ve recently completely changed what I want to do with my life and I’m now trying to decide whether or not I want to move 14 hours away from where I live and start over…scary decisions! But if you follow your heart you can’t go wrong!

  • Gail says:

    I have been going through the same situation, actually. It’s such a coincidence – I just wrote about it a few days ago. After 2 years pursuing biology (as well!) at my university, I decided that it wasn’t what I truly enjoyed. I have since stopped going to my university and I’ve completely switched gears and am now heading into photography at a different school or on my on if I don’t get accepted.

    I don’t think it matters how long it took you to realize what you want to do with your life (4 years? for you, 2 years for me) as long as you find out what you really, truly love to do at some point. Because you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life! It better be something you’re absolutely passionate about. Follow your heart! You can definitely achieve your dream of becoming a yoga teacher. Do what makes you happy & love what you do! ā¤

  • Vivian says:

    Welcome back! It’s good to see an update!
    I know what you mean about feeling lost about school/career…I’ve finished my undergrad and a master’s and just starting my first “real” job, and I still have no idea what I’m meant to do. The more I do something, the more I realize that’s not what I want. I think the difference is that you at least know what you do want. Do what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about, yoga in your case. I’m still on my journey with yoga, but I wouldnt be a very good teacher, so just a lifetime student!

  • Wei-Wei says:

    I can only imagine how much stress you must be under right now, and the choices you need to make seem so huge. I’m in high school and approaching my AP/IB years where I have to choose my courses which will obviously influence what I’ll be doing in the future – I think that even these choices are hard ones.

    I say… go with your heart. If you don’t like it nor dislike it, then I’m guessing you’re indifferent about it, and that means there’s no passion. If there’s no passion for what you’re doing in everyday life… then frankly speaking I don’t think you’re going to be happy. Just do what you truly want to do.

    It’s great to have an update from you – I was starting to get a little worried! I hope you feel better soon, and remember, I’m always here to talk.

    • i’ve been busy with school so i haven’t got the time to blog/read blogs. i’m glad to see that i still have some followers after all this period! and thanks for the comment Wei-Wei. I sure do miss “chatting” with you through our blogs! ā¤

  • Dmitri says:

    Elaine, great post! I think it’s perfectly fine to have studied biology in college for four years and realized it’s not for you. This is part of what college is for: learning more about yourself and your preferences. I’m just glad that you’re not forcing your way through grad school just because you feel people expect you to.

    I’m sure there infinitely many quotes about success, but here’s one: success is not so much what we have as it is what we are. Cheesy? Yes. Meaningful? Maybe. Being successful does not mean degrees and moneyz. Perhaps being happy is a measure of success. In any case, follow the advice of the famous 80’s band Roxette: Listen to Your Heart ;p. ā¤

  • Monet says:

    I’ve been missing you…and thinking of you…and this post was so beautiful. You shared your heart, and it was a powerful thing to see. I know it can be scary to deviate away from what you and others have expected…but I’ve learned that following your heart is the only way to ensure happiness and peace. I know you would make an excellent yoga teacher. You are calm, wise, and full of grace! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us…please know that if you ever need to talk or need extra support. I am here!

  • Ayla says:

    Follow your heart, Elaine. If yoga is your calling then don’t deny it, let your passions continue to blossom. We will only ever be THIS person once so why waste our time living this life feeling incomplete or following the wrong path?

  • […] then I thought of myself, how in my previous post I have realized what my heart really wants (at least for the time being), and I am actually taking […]

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