After spending 3 years in college and changing my major more times than I care to admit, I still had no idea the direction in which I wanted to take my career. I was sitting in the living room of my apartment with my roommates late one night and as I uncrossed my legs to stand up, I hit my foot on the coffee table, shattering the bones. An injury that eventually left me bedridden with a metal pin sticking out of the top of my foot for three months, and forced me to drop out of college. I didn't realize it then, but the circumstance I thought would be detrimental to my future actually ended up being the beginning of it.I had always been discouraged from majoring in the things I enjoyed because they “didn't make enough money” and the things that did make “enough money” bored me to the point of tears. So for 3 years, I wandered the campus feeling lost, just trying to make it past the next exam with no real sense of security concerning what my future might hold. The truth was, I didn't want to be in college. I didn't feel like it was for me, but my high school guidance counselors seemed to have conspired with my mother to convince me that it was the only option after high school.
After coming out of my post surgery haze, I realized I was faced with a very difficult decision. I could either return to college to please my mother or I could take the time to figure out what it is that I wanted to do and if i wanted to go back at all. Eventually I caved in to the pressure and began preparing to return to school. I applied for a job close to a campus at a local university where I planned to enroll and planned to work there while I went back to school. It was a live on position at an extended stay hotel. I got the job, and it took me two weeks to realize that this was exactly what I was meant to do. I enjoyed every aspect of the job and found myself missing work when I wasn’t working as opposed to watching the clock waiting to get off. This unexpected discovery invigorated me with a new sense of motivation and compelled me to take control of my own life. So for the first time in my life, I told my mother “no.” I was not going to go back to college. (At least for the time being.) I was not going to be a lawyer. I was not going to be a doctor. I was not going to resign my happiness for a dollar amount or a corner office. I was going to do what made me happy. June 1st will make two years since i’ve been with the company. I’ve worked very hard and been met with the same dedication from the company in return. Within my time here i've gotten promoted and been rewarded with some amazing opportunities. I've never, even for a second, regretted my decision and I couldn’t be more pleased with the career path that i've chosen. Now to be clear, I definitely do not recommend injuring yourself or dropping out of college on a quest to accidentally find a career. My story is odd to say the least, but there are some key elements that can be taken away and applied towards finding (or figuring out) your niche.
Make the best of the worst. Don't let a temporary set back permanently keep you from getting ahead. Many times it’s hard to see how you will make it through tough times, but as cliche as it sounds there is very often a silver lining. If there isn't a silver lining, create one. I don't know that I believe there’s a reason for everything, but I do believe you can achieve a positive outcome from anything. It’s all about your perspective and how you choose to react to whatever is thrown your way.
Disregard the traditions. For me, college just was not a good fit. I still wholeheartedly believe in education, I just choose to educate myself in other ways. I only stayed as long as I did because it was “what I was supposed to do.” There is no right way to do life. You have to figure out what’s right for you. Find whatever path to success is the one that you enjoy and stick with it.
Know when to say “no.” There’s nothing wrong with saying no when you mean it. Follow your intuition and stick your guns. Figure out what your priorities are and use those to guide our decisions. If you are being pushed towards something you do not want, be it by a family member or guidance counselor, push back. Be confident about what it is you want and work hard towards it.
Keep an open mind. You may not know what makes you happy until you try it. When opportunities arise, take advantage of them. Try new things and you just may be surprised what fits you. The future may not look the way you imagined, but it may pleasantly surprise you if you give it the chance.
Sometimes it's easy to forget how big the world is and once we forget that we tend to view our options as limited. If you keep in mind how big the world around you actually is, it makes sense that there are so many other ways to be successful and find your niche than the ones you have been taught. So stop whatever it is you are doing that is not serving your happiness or pushing you towards your goals. It may seem scary at first, but that one thing you try when everyone is telling you not to, just may be your niche.