Title Card - Finding My Strengths

Finding My Strengths

For some people, finding their career path is easy: they develop a hobby that they are endlessly fascinated with and take their self-procured knowledge to the workplace with skills they developed. Unfortunately for me, I had the perception that my hobbies did not set me up for much of anything, and I felt lost when attempting to discover the path that I was supposed to be on. I have been an avid collector of Nintendo games, consoles and memorabilia, and enjoyed playing games in my spare time. I have also enjoyed reading books, getting lost in the alternate worlds of science fiction and fantasy novels. I am a musician, having participated in bands and choirs for as long as I can remember and I have played the piano since I was four years old. Finally, something that goes with my reading, I love to write stories and build worlds through my writing.

Now you might be looking at these hobbies and scratch your head saying, “But Dan, there is so much you can do with all of those things! You could be a novelist, play an instrument in a symphony orchestra, become a game designer, there is so much you can do.” Well, you are correct, there are a lot of things that these hobbies might suggest are possible in a career. The trouble for me is that I just didn’t see it.

I was unfortunately under the impression that the arts were a dead-end road. I had heard all too frequently the trope of the “starving artist” and felt as though it simply wasn’t a path that made sense to follow. Of course, I recognize now that such a statement is completely false, and that anyone can make a living based on what they love if they have enough heart and spirit to make their dream a reality. However, at the time, this left me with one singular option: computer science.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate computer science. There are a lot of aspects of it which I thoroughly enjoyed and thrived in, having been a participant in North America’s FIRST Robotics competitions in high school. I loved the design and build processes, learning and tweaking and rehashing as new ideas come to fruition in front of your eyes. Building with a team, learning new things every day, it was a wonderful experience. And although I performed well prior to university in the maths and sciences, university-level computer science theory started to drag me down.

See, the grand majority of what I find to be enjoyable in a particular activity tend to be the creative pieces, rather than the theoretical or mathematical. Just one look at my hobbies tends to be a dead giveaway for this immediately, but my good marks and comprehension made it more difficult for me to see or focus on. The added pressure of both my parents belonging to the computer science field and the desire to follow in their footsteps was also a strong draw, but that is never a good reason to do something. Although I was okay in Computer Science, my degree dragged on, and it wasn’t until I started to take creative writing courses that I would realize what I truly enjoyed doing.

With the help of many people around me, I started learning about the wide open field of communications. From social media to web content writing, copywriting to website development and everything in between, there were suddenly far more options for the writer than I had previously recognized. This felt like a dream come true for me, as there were suddenly that many more opportunities to grow into something I considered meaningful while doing something I loved doing. My confidence shot up immediately and I started to excel in my new job, finding new and better ways to continue learning and growing.

If there is anything you learn from this story, it is this: know your strengths and don’t ignore them. Trying to be something that you are not will only lead you to heartbreak in the future, and potentially much more stress and anxiety in your work down the road. There are always opportunities for those who are passionate about what they do, and you should always use that passion to fuel your dreams and goals. I’m certainly glad that I figured that part out sooner rather than later.