We’ve all heard about the left brain versus right brain dominance. We know how it goes. If you’re “left-brained”, then you’re a more analytical or logical thinker. If you’re “right-brained”, then you have a tendency to be more creative or artistic. While I think this insight can be useful, it has often left me wondering where I fall and what I should be doing.
All throughout high school, I was the kid who strove for straight As and was disappointed in myself if I ever fell short of that self-imposed goal. During my freshman year of high school, I convinced myself that I needed to be an engineer. Engineering is a wonderful career path for those who genuinely enjoy the work, but I did not. I didn’t choose engineering because it was passion. I chose it because it was difficult and I wanted to praise and recognition that comes with doing something hard.
As I continued in this pursuit, I started eliminating certain fields of engineering that I didn’t want to study, in hopes of settling for one that I didn’t mind. This was my approach when I started college. I was so convinced that I needed to be a purely left-brained person that I chose Computer Science as my major, even though I had no desire to be a hardcore programmer. I continued in this cycle throughout my freshman year. Meanwhile, I had this love of design that I was stashing away, all the while telling myself that I needed to focus on something purely technical for a career. My interests in art and design could be my hobbies. But it never works that way. I was spending more and more time on work I didn’t enjoy while my hobbies got pushed aside.
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I finally came to the realization that all these self-imposed requirements were worthless. I wasn’t going to let anyone else down by changing my major. People wouldn’t think less of me for changing my mind about what I wanted to do with my career. However, there was also a part of me that enjoyed working with technology and I still wanted to gain knowledge in that area. While thinking it all over, I happened upon an area of interest. I discovered user experience design, which focuses on designing the interactions between humans and technology (e.g. how users interact with mobile apps and websites). I’ve fallen somewhat in love with this field of study because it allows me to combine my interests in design (and some psychology) with my interest in technology.
However, very few schools offer a degree in user experience design, something that I hopes changes in the coming years. So instead, I made the decision to change my major to Computer Information Systems (CIS). For those who aren’t familiar with this degree, you’re not alone. I’ve been steadily figuring out better ways to explain my degree to others. To give an overview, a CIS degree gives me the knowledge I need to work with technology in a business setting. I get some practice with programming and the like. But I also gain valuable insight into the nature of the business world at large. Additionally, I’ll have the opportunity to work an internship in user experience design this summer, where I hope to learn a lot more about this exciting field of work. All in all, I am much happier now than I was before changing my major. There was no real reason for me to do work I didn’t enjoy. That’s not to say that my work in easy now. There is no body of work that is always easy, but that’s what makes it rewarding. While my work is still challenging, I now enjoy the challenge. I’m working for more than just the praise. I’m doing the work because I truly enjoy it, even if it can get stressful at times.
Through this entire experience I came to a very important revelation. I don’t have to be a strictly left-brained person. I shouldn’t feel the need to avoid my more right-brained inclinations just because of what is most popular in the job market. And at the same time, I don’t have to be a purely right-brained person either. It’s perfectly fine to combine the two. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do both. I enjoy technology and I enjoy design, but I enjoy them the most when I can bring them together.
This post was made in response to the Daily Post’s prompt Lifestyle.