“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
When I was a little child, in every family reunion all the relatives has asked me this same question half seriously, half jokingly. I didn't know the answer.
Truth is that the notion of a dream career, including the wide array of other ambitions and motivations, shapes and shifts form in a constant flux. Usually at a slow pace, but sometimes quite drastically. Something happened to me one day. I experienced a sudden epiphany: I want to be a psychologist.
The Tides of Past
The sheer beauty of the starry sky allured me greatly. Navigating across the universe, searching for alien life, and researching the origin of stars and planets was a secret dream of mine in my early youth. The cosmos is one of the most beautiful creations in existence. This implicit idea didn't start sprouting until highschool though.
Unsurprisingly, however, upon entering highschool I lacked the motivation and discipline to study physics and mathematics. This was partially influenced by the vast amount of gaming hours I spent online, and partially due to both subject's challenging nature. However, video games weren't a waste of time in my opinion. First of all, I enjoyed it and “enjoyed time is not wasted time”. Later on I found myself editing and creating gaming videos too, and then slowly shifted towards creating motion graphics.
I learned compositing, graphics design and principles of motion. I wanted to become a motion graphic designer. Yet, after thorough analysis and contemplation, I concluded to leave it as a hobby instead. I was back to square one.
Duty called and I was summoned to do my part for the fatherland. The basic training lasted three months, after which the specialization phase started. I was assigned to one of the rarest and best roles in the whole garrison. As a consequence, I was left with a lot of spare time. At some point my best friend recommended me an app called Quora. It is a Q&A platform where people anywhere in the world can participate in their favorite topics.
From there on I gained huge amount of useful knowledge and eventually discovered the colossal realm of books, namely self-help books. Never did I think of myself as a bookworm, but after those times I gained the momentum to what was to lead me towards self-discovery, and later into the concept of self-awareness.
Then one day, I came across a book that was to change my life: “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy. The author recommended to pose a question to one self before going to sleep. He claimed that the subconscious would come up with an answer. Having nothing to lose, I wittingly asked myself:
“Which career path should I follow?”
The next morning I strolled to the kitchen. Half-awake, I turned the stove heat up to make oatmeal. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, I was struck by a bizarre experience: my inner voice said something to me spontaneously. That voice had a foreign tone to it.
Having not yet started the day with a morning coffee, I was slow to react. Suddenly I found myself in shock and awe. I began glowing. It was an unbelievably ethereal moment. A huge wave of goosebumps vibrated through my entire body. I forget the porridge and run fast to google answers.
I was scared to share the experience with anyone, since it felt as if I had gone absolutely mad. It was an otherworldly experience. After two days I shared the experience with my mom. This was the crux in my life where I found myself en route on an epic journey to psychology.
The Winds of Academia
I could spot the horizon, but the journey wasn't over yet. For the next five months, I worked on packaging and studied voraciously. I learned advanced statistical mathematics and psychology in a relatively short period. I was prepared to take on the entrance exams in Finland.
Sadly, in the end, I was rejected. I didn't do well enough. I was crushed and felt sad. I felt instantly demotivated. For a moment I was lost, but I knew I couldn't surrender. The bonfire in me (which comes with my name) burned still bright inside me. I couldn't let that light go dim. The sheer idea of having to try to get into the same university for the next few years was a depressing thought, and so without hesitation, I began exploring other alternatives.
Going abroad had always crossed my mind and now the opportunity lay right in front of my eyes! A leap of bravery was all that was required: So I said fuck it. I passed the IELTS test with good grades and provided the mandatory documents to the University.
But why the Netherlands in particular? Quite simply: I wanted to smoke weed everyday and drink cheap booze. Psyche! Just kidding! But in all seriousness, it was the only best place in Europe that taught Bachelor's in Psychology in English without having to go through all the unnecessary hogwash.
Okay. Then why Leiden and not, say, Amsterdam or Tilburg? That is because I first heard of Leiden from a Finnish blogger, and the population of the city was just fitting. Nothing more special to it really.
For the next six months until my departure, I worked in a shipyard. The manual labor work motivated me to break free out of the mundane chains of daily routine and push myself into a more academic atmosphere. I really missed school. After all, it had been three years since the last time I was in school. You can read from my first blog post how the story continues...
The Voyage into the Future
So here I am. Studying to become a psychologist. But, what is psychology anyways? If I were to define it my own terms, I would say that psychology is a field of science where you try to understand human mind and behavior from multiple aspects. So far my I have learned psychology (D'oh!), philosophy, advanced statistics, writing, researching and more. Currently, the importance has been focusing on creating a foundation where to build further knowledge on.
What is so interesting in psychology? One, I love to learn new psychological concepts and theories. Applying the psychological concepts into everyday life and observing (but never judging!) people is like a superpower!
Two, I am interested in knowing how we humans operate. Of course, we are all individuals with our own subjective, rich inner worlds! Never are we able to understand the other person completely. We are very complex beings and not some lifeless boulders. Though I like that boulder. That is a nice boulder...I digress.
Lastly, in the future I wish to help people with the best of my knowledge and skills. Be it in a clinical setup as psychotherapist or as a researcher trying to find out how to create effective user-experience decisions within the human-computer interaction world.
Helping and creating the world a better place by doing positive difference in everyday life, small or big, is always worth the effort and extremely rewarding. Either way, there is always the chance that the future doesn't go as planned in our minds and that is when I think to myself:
“A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. “