No: 20, Opinions, Volume 29

What I Learned from My Worst Years



How different would my life have been if I had made one different decision along the way? As students in Turkey, we are forced to make a life-altering decision about who we want to be at the end of high school. We are asked to choose a major and follow that path when we don’t even know the implications of the decision. If you are not one of the lucky people who always knew what they wanted to be, you might have chosen what people around you told you to, just like I did at first. But after a series of choices, I’ve ended up in a place that would surprise a younger version of myself, and I could not be happier. It took me a while to make the choice to study psychology in Bilkent. So, I would like to tell you what I have learned about making good decisions from the last few years of making some wrong ones.

After my university exam, I got into medical school and that seemed like the best choice at the time. Every piece of advice from my parents and teachers (and practically everyone else in my life) led me to believe I was a perfect fit to become a doctor. But after studying medicine for a while, I felt lost. I didn’t know who I was, what I was doing, or what I wanted to do. That year was probably the worst year of my life. I questioned many things, trying to figure out how I’d ended up there. I realized that who I was or wanted to be had nothing to do with being a doctor. I wish I had known that I couldn’t cheat my way through the decision of who to be by asking other people to tell me. It doesn’t mean that taking advice from people who care about you is wrong or that you shouldn’t do it. We should take advice from people we look up to for as long as necessary, but take as long as we need to think — think about what they are saying, how that makes us feel and how we’ll feel a year or a decade into the future. After being alone with our thoughts, we will start to understand who we are rather than what other people expect us to be.

The most important thing I have learned, and the most difficult to accept, is that I should never give up what I want to do in order to be a good daughter, student or friend. What we want deep down for our lives holds more value than any kind of relationship we might have. Throughout our lives we should consider the feelings of our eight-year-old and eighty-year-old selves. If the child within is proud of how far you’ve come and how courageous you’ve been and the eighty-year-old you is proud of the life you’ve lived, then no matter what people say you will have lived your happily ever after.