Going Off Your Beaten Path by Maryanne Oketch

As someone who is a Type A personality, I love planning. This comes out in all the parts of my
life. When I travel, I always have an itinerary with places I would love to visit and love to eat,
and by the time I was 18, I already had my honeymoon planned. Did I have a partner at the time?
Nope, but I knew that I had to be prepared.

This love of planning is one that also bled into my career planning. By the time I was in 9th grade,
I already had my life planned. I was going to finish High School with Honours, go to university
in a program that is STEM related, and when I graduated University, I would then immediately
continue my education with a Master’s Degree in my field, and once that was done, I would then
enter the world of work in the field that I had decided on at such a young age.

Once I had my plan, I began to take the steps to enact it. I applied to 8 undergraduate programs,
all in STEM, and then went to begin my undergraduate degree at McMaster University. I
remember beginning my first two years in the program, and deciding that I would continue with
my Masters in the lab that I was currently researching in. As time passed and I got closer and
closer to fulfilling my plan, I began to realize that I didn’t want to spend my Masters in a Lab,
and I instead wanted to pivot my focus.

So, I decided to pivot. I would instead get my master’s in theological studies, and abandon the
lab and brush up on my writing skills. With this pivot, my plan was still there. I would still do
my Masters, and begin my career in what my Masters degree was.

I then Graduated University, and then began my Masters. As I continued my Masters, I realized
that I still hadn’t found my passion, and that if I was to follow my plan, I would always be
wondering about the “what if.” I remember talking to someone who then asked me if I ever
thought about sharing my story, and I told her that I had never thought about it before, since it
was never in the plan. Although I saw that path as a viable option for someone else, I didn’t see it
as one that I could take.

Having a plan for many things in our lives is a good thing to have, but sometimes, I noticed that
even when new opportunities would come up, I would be so focused on my previous goals that I
would not think about evaluating the new options that were now available. Taking that leap to
follow my passion was hard, but I had the support of mentors and friends to do so.

There are so many times where a path is determined for us, whether by ourselves or by others.
Taking that leap to go off your beaten path can be scary, but taking those steps to explore the
options that are provided for you can lead you to a place that you never thought you could be in!

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