“Dad, I want to study literature…”
This is what I said to my dad three months before my twelfth-grade board exams, wherein I was studying science and preparing for NEET.
I had always wanted to become a doctor. At eight, I wanted to be a veterinarian, at fourteen I wanted to be an ophthalmologist. I had a very emotional reason to choose these specific medicine courses. I would always imagine myself sitting in my own clinic, helping people, curing illnesses, saving lives. So, I told my parents, “I want to be a doctor, I want to take up science after 10th…” My parents had always been supportive of my dreams and were ready to accept any course I wanted to pursue. So after tenth grade, I took up science.
I started high school with a lot of enthusiasm. I knew everything about the human eye, and I was so excited to learn so much more about the human body. But something was missing in my lectures. I did not understand much of what I was doing, and I would only stare into the emptiness during my physics and chemistry lecture. I got into coaching classes for some of the toughest medical entrance exams, and would sit in a freezing sixteen degrees for ten hours a day, understanding nothing. I would scribble poems all over my exam question paper, and my answer sheet would only have the question numbers written on it, with a few words here and there.
I failed almost every science exam in those two years, and my interest in studying only got lesser and lesser by the minute. By the end of my eleventh grade, I was least bothered about my exams or my results. It didn’t hurt to fail; it hurt to not be bothered by failing. For those two years, I was only topping in the one subject no one really cared about: English.
After a long, tough, depressing year and a half of struggling in high school, I went up to my dad and said, “Dad, I want to study literature…”
His response? “Okay, prepare for the SAT.”
I still remember the day I said this to my dad very clearly. Although I was very nervous and hesitant about sharing the sudden change in my career decision, it was a very casual conversation. It was December, I was three months away from my board exams, my parents had just spent lacs of rupees on my coaching classes and high school. But when it came to understanding and accepting my decision, they were very composed and confident about it.
I immediately started preparing for the SAT and IELTS. I gave the SAT on a Saturday in May, and I gave the NEET the very next day, on a Sunday. It was stressful, but it was life-changing. And I was ready to accept this change and get aboard this train of pursuing my passion, which barely had any certainty. I waited for my SAT results, prepared for the IELTS, gave the IELTS test, got the results, attended numerous university and study abroad fares, and explored college options endlessly.
I spent days researching colleges, and months on writing my Statement of Purpose. I applied to eleven top universities for English Literature, got selected by all of them, and finally accepted the offer by Trinity College Dublin, one of the top 10 universities for English Literature! Yes, the girl who failed most of her high school exams is now pursuing her passion in one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.
Since the academic year abroad started in the Fall, I had over a year to myself. During this one year, I completed three internships, exploring and understanding the professional side and practical application of my rather peculiar course of English Literature. I worked as a Marketing Analyst intern at one of the topmost PR agencies in India, as a Social Media Marketing intern at a premier national news agency, and finally as a Content Writer and Copywriter at an up-and-coming digital marketing and PR agency. The last internship was where I discovered my true calling, and understood what kind of content writing I love the most.
After these internships, I packed my bags, and then packed a little bit of my home in my bags, and moved thousands of miles away for college. That was the first time I lived alone. It was very scary yet comforting at the same time to have been living all alone by myself. But, somehow, even here, my passion for content writing saved me.
I joined a lot of societies in college, taking up major roles such as Copyeditor, Content Writer, Incubator Ambassador, English Class Rep, Communications Officer and Public Relations Officer. My university brought me amazing opportunities which changed my life in the best way possible.
One such incident that completely turned my life around was meeting the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, while he was visiting our college. On the 24th of September 2018, I had the opportunity to listen to Jeff Weiner give an interview where he shared his story and his views on the top leadership skill: compassion. After the interview, he was kind enough to talk to me, and even check my LinkedIn profile! This is how the miraculous conversation went:
“Hey Jeff, my name is Shreya. I’d like to know how I, as a student, can make the most of my LinkedIn. Don’t want to wait until I graduate.”
“Okay, so what do you do, tell me about you.”
“I write. I’m a copywriter.”
“Do you have a LinkedIn profile?”
“Can I see it?”
He took my phone and went through my entire profile page. He asked me what my dream job is, where I would like to work, and who I would like to work for. He told me that I must know exactly what I want to do, and be as specific as possible so that I know how to approach it. We spoke for about 3 minutes, during which Jeff’s interest and enthusiasm were remarkable. He never broke eye contact and was firm with what he said. The fact that he took out time to talk to me and give me advice showed exactly what he meant by being compassionate.
This incident gave me a whole new level of self-awareness. When Jeff Weiner himself said to me to be as specific as I can about what I want in life, I decided I really had to define my passion and pursuit. I then started introducing myself as ‘Shreya Pattar, Content Writer”. I started posting regularly on LinkedIn, sharing my college experiences. I eventually got selected as the LinkedIn Campus Editor, posted a lot of content that people loved, and finally landed my first client in less than a month. I kept developing myself online, establishing myself as a Content Writer who builds brands. And that is how I finally understood my true calling and my identity.
Today, I write over three thousand words every single day. I craft content for everything: blogs, digital marketing, websites, brochures, emails… whatever anyone needs. I have never been so busy in my life before. But, even though I don’t have time for anything else anymore, I love being busy, because I love doing what I do. In fact, I’m now just 15 minutes away from the deadline for submitting this article… that’s the situation!
The past two years have moulded me into a completely different person. Now, all I have in my life is gratitude. Gratitude for my parents who believed in me and let me pursue the unconventional. Gratitude for the people I am surrounded by, who push me to do so much better. Gratitude for all the opportunities I got, and all the things that changed me and made me into the person I am right now, typing this with a smile on her face.
I always wanted to be a doctor and cure people.
I guess now, as a Content Writer, I am a doctor of words who heals people!
This story won First Place in the #MyCareerStory contest and was originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.