I am an introvert by nature, most comfortable spending my time lurking in corners and observing people from afar. I enjoyed writing throughout my life. I always credited my deep train of thought for it. All of those silent, philosophical contemplations that always consumed my mind, turning into untimely whispers that were only meant for none other than my own two ears; as people stood around me and wondered, “Who else could she possibly be talking to?!” It all makes sense now.
Except I haven’t picked up a pen and a leather-bound book in the last four years of my undergrad until more recent months. I deprived myself of the simplest pleasures that could have went a long way. I thought, Engineers don’t write. Engineers engineer.
It’s great to build onto your soft skills and technical expertise as an engineering student. I have learned some invaluable lessons by putting time into activities for my professional development. However, I should have spent just as much, if not, more time exploring those interests I know I would have enjoyed most.
Though some part of me internalized that I would be less of one if I expressed my creativity beyond numbers, so I refrained from it. I thought, What kind of value would this add to my resume?
I am not going to blatantly lie and assure you that everyone loves an artist. I have come across people who hardly cared for it, and even held preconceived judgments against me quite evident in their passive aggressions. However, I came to a personal realization that I do not intend to, nor do I have the need to settle for such environments. They will find their perfect fits, and so will I if I just look harder. At least for my own sake.
You see the problem here? I was searching for an affirmation that I was never going to receive. Not unless I fight for it and set an example. ‘Engineering’ means something different for every individual. From recounting past conversations with others, here is what it meant to them:
Makings things possible.
Aren’t there branches to this?
Um, pipelines, computers and buildings…!
A lot of math!
… Hard physics.
Math and physics?
A means to an end.
I wronged myself. I used other people’s views to ultimately influence mine. It cannot be universally defined by a sole word or phrase. What it is to me is what I choose to make it out to be. Starting from this point on, I choose: Creative. That is how engineering speaks out to me within my own respect.
It took four years and countless failures to realize the secret sauce to my successes. My performance as a volunteer and leader spiked upward, as I started to strongly pursue my recent writing ventures. My anxieties started relieving as I took those much-needed breaks to write out these mind-numbing emotions and create something beautiful while I’m at it.
I have now realized that I could have made it work all along. Social issues have always been personal to me, and although I’ve taken on more ‘serious’ angles of working on these, such as project management and engineering design, I could have also leveraged these amazing opportunities I’ve had to do something I truly loved. Instead, I ruled out my ability to dream boundlessly as wishful thinking. And my passion to write? Utterly useless.
Turns out, I wasn’t the only one guilty of this. This discovery took a while for many others too, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you. University is a scary realm to enter, and the best thing you can do to feel comfortable in your own skin is to hold onto those few things that keep you sane. Whether it’s writing, drawing, film, music or anything else concocted by your wildest imagination. Be boundless. Free. Creative. Be uniquely you.