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I chose engineering for the money

By Tiffany Yau, August 30 2023—

I mean, Google considers it as a choice. Really, it was more of a process of elimination — like those multiple choice questions where they ask you which is most correct, except they all look incorrect and there is no option for none of the above. But you can’t just leave it empty, so you ask your trusty yes-no eraser if it is “A”, and it says yes, but then you ask if it’s sure and it says no and the timer is ticking so you panic and pick “B” instead. All while trying to convince yourself that “B” is the right answer and ignoring your gut telling you that it might be “C”. Oh, and your immigrant parents made the test.

…Yeah, that about summed up my college application experience. At least it was not an open-ended response — that would have been infinitely worse. Just imagine a sheet of A4 paper with a line of ink reading: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” in front of you on a desk in an empty gymnasium. Absolutely nightmare-inducing, if you ask me. 

Current me, that is.

Funny enough, if you gave four-year-old Tiffany that same question, she would have happily scribbled out “a princess.” No, really. I went through my preschool yearbook the other day. 

While other kids wanted to be doctors to help people or astronauts who explore space, I apparently wanted to be a princess so I could wear poofy dresses and “be pretty.” I wish I could tell you about the first time I held a computer mouse and the rush of exhilaration I got from clicking on a tab. Alas, that is not my story to tell, which is a shame because it doesn’t give me a very cool engineering backstory for my LinkedIn.

As I grew up, I tried to answer the question with things I enjoyed doing. After all, didn’t some dude say that if you worked a job you loved, you wouldn’t be working at all? Unfortunately, I ran into an admittingly big problem: I don’t love anything. Yes, there are many things that I don’t like doing, and many things that I don’t mind doing. At one point, I even had hobbies — until I realized that I only wanted to do them because I was good at it. There is nothing I would willingly do, never mind making a career out of it. If it were up to me, I would probably rot in bed all day. But then, I’d ponder about the meaning of my existence, and who wants to think about that? 

This is where my distraction — an engineering degree — comes into play. Because it requires a good chunk of my attention, energy and whatever brain cells I have to roll around. I am forced to live day by day, without thinking too much about what to do in the future. And no, my red flag isn’t avoiding my problems until they pile up and eventually collapse. 

As much as I’d like a revelation to hit me like a ton of bricks (actually, maybe not bricks— that would hurt), my ever-so-logical self knows that that is highly unlikely. Thus, I have been trying to increase my chances by exposing myself to new things and new people at university. Now, I may be doing a lot of wrong things, but I believe that this is something that is right. Even if they do not light a spark within me, I get to learn what I do not want to do. See, the process of elimination. Eventually, my list will either become a few mere bullet points or some external monster of doom — I think his name is “Deadlines”— will make me make a decision. Or maybe, just maybe, I encounter something along the way that is so bright and unignorable, enough so that I hop off of my mindless train of stability and chase after it. 

If all else fails, at least engineers make money, right? 

This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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