Have I ever told you that I almost became a physical therapist?
Yep, that was going to be me in a clinic helping people work out the nearly unusable limbs, muscles, and joints in an effort to regain their functionality. I liked the idea of having such a rewarding profession. A job where you arrive, do some good, and go home feeling like a million bucks.
Then reality hit me in the face like the proverbial ton of bricks.
I took a summer job at an outpatient clinic in the northern suburbs. I worked as a physical therapy aide. While much of what you do as an aide, intern, assistant, etc., is grunt work like filing, paperwork, and cleaning up after the big-money pros, this place did allow me to take part in therapy sessions as well. For that I was eternally grateful because it made me change my mind about PT as a career.
I ran away. Far away. The foreign language program at NIU, to be specific.
I decided physical therapy just wasn't for me. I think I had this illusion in my head that the whole process was so much faster than it was in reality. That after a week or two, you'd see some miracle happen and a person who couldn't use their hands would suddenly be typing up a masterpiece or a wheelchair-bound patient would be running marathons. I think I also falsely believed that I'd be performing a variety of tasks and trying new, experimental techniques that would break the mold, as it were, and revolutionize the field.
Sure, it was naive and wholly unrealistic and something that nobody in their right mind would ever buy into. And a big part of me knew the truth was not at all how I was imagining it. But the dreamer in me didn't want to listen to the realist.
That's not to say that physical therapists don't occasionally witness miracles. They do happen. Just ask Kevin Everett. And you can have fun and find radical new ways to provide assistance to those in need (thank you, Nintendo). But I was young and impetuous and needed gratification right here, right now.
Please don't ask me why I thought Spanish was the way to go to achieve this goal. I don't even use my language "skills" at all. My Spanish is horrifically rusty. I guess this was one of those life lessons that you receive as you grow up.
This was part of what made me who I now am and gave me the wonderful life I now live. If I had gone the PT route, I wouldn't be with Katie. We never would have met because our paths never would have crossed. So, obviously, I don't regret the decision I made at all, but I will admit to wondering "what if" on occasion.
What about you? What sort of life lessons helped mold who you are now? What career paths had you considered in the past?