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Why I Chose Psychology Over Engineering?

By Muhammad Mehdi

On the verge of their college graduation, everyone is confronted with a wide range of career choices. Which one draws them in, depends upon a number of factors pertaining to an individual and their environment.

Nevertheless, millions of choices are made and people commit to different disciplines every year. Some go for ‘passion’ and the rest for ‘prudence’. I tell you, this is leading us straight into that scope vs interest argument that is long been bothering us now. But without delving into this never settling issue, we stick to our central debate.

They say, choosing from a platter brimming with a variety of dishes is always a difficult task. The pain this paradox of choice brings is very unpleasant. Choice of one might bring the regret of not choosing the other. So lesser the choices, the better.

Something similar happened with me at the end of my college graduation. I scored around 86% in my intermediate with pre-engineering and was expected to land at the top-notch of a university and grab the most obvious [rather say fruitful] of degrees. From parents to neighbours, whom I hadn’t even talked to except salam greetings all my life now dreamt of me walking from [at least] NED’s gates with a graduation hat and a job mithai  the very next day.

BUT, WAIT WAIT WAIT!

My choice of psychology as a career meant what they expected of me could never ever intercept reality. Then what?

All the Aunty Rubinas, Shabanas and Rukhsanas grabbed their phone and began prophesying my ruin. From that day onwards, I was declared a psycho myself; deprecated – directly and indirectly, publicly and privately, blatantly and suggestively.

All these stones hurled and arrows aimed could not permanently damage my fortress of conviction. Deep down, I knew which path I had chosen to tread upon and why.

This “why”, I reckon, is the most crucial of all the questions you have to ask yourself before choosing a career. More the convincing answers it provides to you, the more meaningful your career-path becomes. Fortunately, I had many of such answers for my resolve.

Studying humans and a wide understanding of how they operate in their settings has from the beginning fantasized me. Understanding humans has been considered by me as one of the most valuable skill one could possess. The more I used to wonder about this phenomenon, the more intricate and complex it seemed. Then there was a day that I learnt about a discipline called psychology. I was amazed to learn that it governed all the principles pertaining to human mind and the stuff I had so frequently wondered about.

But, dear reader, don’t let yourself think that it was this impulse and fantasy that made me jump into this ‘mire’ straightaway. It was a very painstaking and mind-boggling task for me, to be honest, for I had to shoulder the burden of bread-winning too.

For many people, career means the procurement of a pay-slip at the end of month – that’s all. The heftier this piece of paper gets, the more success accumulates for one. Sadly, no vision or desire to make a difference pilots their choice, let alone the recognition of one’s own self and skills.

On the other hand, this was not the case with me. In choosing psychology, I could see myself translating my interests, attitudes and skills into a career that was best suited for me. In addition to this, I must admit that I also struggled with interest in machines throughout my life. Changing a bulb from a holder was harder for me than writing a two-page short story. So I chose to be an effective psychologist who might be earning less rather than some futile engineer who’s having pots of money.

Here I remember the most inspirational line from the movie “3 Idiots”.

“Do something that you have talent for. If Lata Mangeshkar’s father told her to become a fast bowler. Or if Sachin Tendulkar‘s father told him to be a singer. Imagine where they’d be today.”

One might argue that it was simply a matter of luck for both. Did every cricketer become as exalted as Tendulkar alone and every singer as venerated as Lata? The answer is simply NO. But we can never disparage the effects of hard work and resilience both must have put into their careers. Let me cite another movie reference here. In the movie “Pursuit of Happyness”, Will Smith says to his son,

“Hey. Don’t ever let somebody tell you… You can’t do something. Not even me. All right? You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

All in all, the broadening scope of psychology meant that I could fit in far more easily in the market as the supply for able psychologists is not adequate. This was the ‘prudent part’ constituting my opting for psychology.

Apart from this, my unusual decision speaks volumes about a little visionary inside me who reckons that studying psychology can lead to the betterment of the individuals around me. Controlling the mechanisms and workings of humans can directly benefit the society. With more emphasis exerted by industrialism in the quest of understanding machines, maybe we forgot to employ our concentrations upon the most important of beings and what phenomena pervades its life most deeply. Quoting Einstein here,

“… we exist for our fellow-men in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends…”

Cynics can well deem me and my choice as mad and a probable result of lack of smart advice. But this was never the case. I did a profuse search on internet for six months and talked to many people related to career guidance and psychology was the answer that came from inside me every time.

This discipline, I think bears all the answers I have always searched for and a promise of a fulfilling life that might never bring me pangs of regret on my deathbed.

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