As I sit here, trying to work, there is a finch that is determined to get through my window. It keeps coming back and trying, testing the window with its beak or feet. It never hits the window hard, not hard enough to knock itself out, but enough to test and see if maybe now it will be able to get through. Feeling a bit sorry for the bird I went out to chase it away. It fluttered into a nearby tree, only to return and try again.
Maybe it can’t figure out another way around, maybe it sees something in my office that it really wants. But one thing is for sure, this path is not going to work for it. It will succumb before the window does. It did get me thinking, through rattle of beak on glass, that while I sit here wondering why it doesn’t take another path, that maybe we aren’t so different. People have a tendency to get focused on a single path to get to where they want to go. A single, right, way to achieve what they want. But, like the bird, maybe that path is blocked and no matter how much you poke at it and try to stubbornly get through, all that is going to happen in the end is that you have a headache, and you’ve wasted time.
There tends to be one path that stands out, that you think is right. For example, to get into publishing the general belief is that you need to move to one of the big cities, preferably Toronto or New York, to get your start. Once you’re there you take an internship and work your way up. And, this is one way to get there, but for me, there was something blocking my path (I didn’t want to move to the big city, and, if I did, how would I survive there making what interns do?) If I had kept that path in mind, if I viewed it as the only path, I would have eventually given up. I would have banged my head against the window for so long trying to figure out a way to make it work that I would have knocked myself out.
Instead, I looked for alternate paths, I wasn’t sure if there were any, and, some days, the more I looked the more I felt like beyond that one path was just a tangle of jungle, impossible to navigate. But, after looking hard enough and long enough other paths emerged and, without knowing what the outcome would be, if it could ever go beyond the internship level, I started walking.
There are so many paths to the career that you want. It is important to explore them and find the one that fits you. As convocation nears I remember how I felt as I walked across that stage: excited and uncertain. I was uncertain of where I was going to go after I stepped off the stage. I was excited and proud to have finished my degree. I stared at the window between where I was, and where I wanted to go, and after bouncing off it a few times I found an alternate route.
I had to go and chase the bird away, again. I hope it stays away this time, I hope it finds it’s other route. I hung some deterrents in the window to encourage it to move on, to tell it that this is not the path for it. But sometimes birds and people are too stubborn to look beyond their current route. As you graduate, or as you work your way through your degree, don’t get frustrated when your path deviates from where you expected it to go, don’t get frustrated when your road there isn’t what you expected; you are taking your own path, your own journey, and be proud that you are blazing new trails instead of just banging your head on the glass.