I guess this is for Indonesian high schooler only, since I don’t know about non-Indonesian people whether they have psychological check first to determine their strong points or just take whatever they want (or parents told them to). Usually in these months I happen to read some articles or journals in tumblr or blogs or twitter… or anywhere everywhere in real life or not, where they ask audience or readers about this kind of topic regardless them (the readers) know their ability or not. What makes them so hyped about this? Of course, “college will determine what you will be in the future”.

Unfortunately no. College, especially undergraduate degree, will only provide you the basic foundation of a certain field you choose to attend to. If you say “engineering” is specific major, my answer is yes and no. Yes, it is based on science and you will meet mathematics everywhere – engineering is said to be a home for people-with-no-live and students-who-never-sleep (Trust Me! I’m an Engineer!). But not that specific. What kind of engineering will you do? Biology? Physics? Chemistry? Electrical? Machinery? Avionics? Moreover, when you choose, say, Chemical Engineering, what speciality would you want to polish? There are chemical engineering for process, polymers, material engineering, and so on.

Today’s high school students are divided by three types: 1) students who know what they want and is getting vast supports from everyone, 2) students who know what they want but external factor such as parents forbide them to attend to major they want to pick, 3) students who don’t know what they want so they do what their parents or society would choose, such as a silly reason “because my friend attend the same major too!” or money matter, 4) students who don’t know what they want and get blank idea. Of course, first option is the most desired by everyone. But sadly, “to know what they want” is quite problematic especially for high school students. Here are some tips based on my experience:

Someone said, having a BIG DREAM is one BIG STEP to success.

In my childhood, I want to become a doctor (TYPICAL!) because doctor looks cool and get much money. Then in junior high, I want to become a writer or an artist or a mangaka (TYPICAL! at least for a people who love drawing and storytelling) because I want to tell people my story. Then in senior high, I’m not sure I will draw for the rest of my life, first because of my parents and second because of job (well, artists gain little money), so I think I will try chemical engineering.

I have a dream. First dream is a bit insane and impossible (most of you are. Kindly tell me if your first childhood dream is to walk on the moon or to be a Superman) then through time, it loses its insanity and getting real. Now you know your dream, then let’s go to the next step.

To know one’s ability and strong points are important.

Sun Tzu (Art of War) once said that to win a battle, we have to know ourselves and our enemies. Everyone have at least one strong point or ability… it is called talent. Holy Scripture says something about talent, right? Three servants are given (unit money) by their master before the master went overseas. One is given 5 (unit money), another is 2 (unit money), and the last is 1 (unit money). The first two servants give the money to be (used as initial modal) and they present their works to their master – and the master praises them. What about the last servant? He digs the dirt and bury his (unit money), and the master gets really angry at him. What’s the point of this parable?

I believe each of us is given this (unit money) called talent according to our capability. Each of us. Even the last (idiot servant) is given one. We all have talents that is given from The Lord from the very start, with no exception. And this is what you all should take note on. All we have to do is to make use of this ability so in the end it will multiply. The one becomes two or hundred, the five becomes twenty five or sixty hundred and twenty five, and so on. So, the next job you have to do is to know your talent.

If I am allowed to boast, I am a type of person that “knows everything master of nothing” – in short, a generalist. From childhood when I dreamt to be a doctor, I don’t know what my talent is. I just wanted to do it because it looked cool. Then I happened to know that I loved drawing and people noticed my ability. This is also important: talent is not only doing whatever you like but also recognized by people. If you love doing something but people don’t recognize you, alas! But this first talent had blocked by my parents, so I should search for another option whilst I still clang to this one. For me, each talents given by the Lord should be sharpened and used for His Glory, so whatever the case, I will never abandon one (and talent discovery is hard too). Another option I have is science. I love reading encyclopedia on science or something like “What if Einstein….” although I didn’t do any good in science classes except chemistry hahaha. I despised physics the most, and math didn’t make any sense. So I choose chemical engineering, because I thought I will get job quite easily since every industries need one and I got much money than artists. Parents allowed me. Ha!

But haven’t I told you I still clang to my love for drawing? If parents couldn’t agree with me being digital artist, then they would have no problem with engineering course: architect. So, there were so much major I wanted to attend based on my ability and my dream. To sort them was a bit easy (for easy-going-and-I-don’t-really-care person like me): based on universities.

The BIG Name of a university will determine your future, they said.

Part of. Well, who wouldn’t? Big and famous universities mean the quality of their teachers, their networks, learning processes, and facility. The greater the university, the bigger chance you will end up in your dream job. If you are accepted by MIT where is infamous of their knowledge, why you need to bother with smaller ones (except for…err, money matter and external factors)? Kinda discriminating smaller universities, but it is better to sort your priority.

I took 3 different university examinations. Because I aimed to be a chemical engineer, I took (infamous) Bandung Institute of Technology as my first priority: first was Faculty of Technical Engineering and the second was Pharmacy (still hadn’t given up for being a doctor, eh). The second, in case I failed the test, I applied for Parahyangan University for its renowed architectural major and the second was still chemical engineering (hadn’t given up to that one ha!). The third as a back up in case I failed the test, I choose Maranatha University for digital design and computer engineering (that was unexpected major came from my pops). I passed the first priority yay!

TOO DAMN EARLY HAPPINESS, BRETHREN! Because technically we freshmen were sorted based on faculty, our major will be determined by our first year’s GPA. Hella competition for us, because chemical engineering’s seats were 200 and the leftover would be dumped to engineering physics. What the hell is engineering physics? Haven’t I told you I despised physics? It was abstract and it was physics. Because it was physics, it would never be my aim.

In the end, GOD is the One who decides.

Engineering physics is said to be ‘leftovers’ for our faculty since it contains physics and it is abstract (not to mention we don’t know what kind of job an engineering physics will do in the future. a researcher or teacher may be?) But at the second semester when I know this major from visiting laboratories and their stories, I unconsciously defend it when my friends said something bad to it. And I told God that it was up to Him to decide, whatever the path I would never regret. And yeah. My GPA lacked 0.04 to enter chemical engineering *laugh crying*.

Did I regret? Never! It was a blessing and I realized that I had no specialty on anything – just because I kinda love them all. I like reading books about plants and biology, I take interest in being a doctor, I also read encyclopedia on universe in my church second floor library in junior high, and I read a lot of strange books such as Shakespeare, classics, and Agatha Christie, plus I love drawing and I can make a game with the help of game editors like Ren’PY or RPGMaker, I do maintenance tapping on my old television[?], I enjoy sightseeing electronic shops better than clothing stores, I browse wikipedia from “world war 2” and ended up in “time paradox” (bless wikipedia for providing us links!). The major suited me the most is covering all of these: engineering physics. As one’s said, engineering physicists can do whatever they want to do. From making a line-follower robot, angklung-robot, UAV, EEG-ECG-EMG and human’s brain, control system for industry, building physics and acoustics and design a concert hall with CATT, ultrasonic for quality assessment in avionic industry, material engineering and nanotechnology as the frontier engineering, heat transfer and air conditioner and energy conservation, laser, optics, and spectroscopy. Only basic provided in class, and I was free to dig deeper into whatever I want (I guess it makes sense because I wandered from Instrumentation Control and Automation laboratory to Computational Material Design). We can suggest insane research too to our professors haha – Rena’s thesis on perfect pitch observed with EEG is new to anyone. And I feel very satisfied when I research and find something extraordinary that people hasn’t found (minus the stress given by deadline). My current dream is to be a researcher. But to attain it, I need to sharpen my ability… and until I take my master degree, I’ll play and sharpen my other ‘talent’ too, so it won’t get rusty (plus, I get the money too) :9 But where I will attend my master degree or when or what, I’ll trust God on this. All I have to do is to silently listen to His answer and take all the opportunity He showed me. If it is JAIST, let it be. If it’ll be ITB, let it be. My senior ever said this to me that to know God’s path for you, you’re enjoying His decision, not suffer on it.

The conclusion is:

Know your dream, know your talent… polish it in a good environment until it multiplies, and let God do the rest for you. If He chooses different path for you, do it without regret – you may find something beautiful behind His plan.

Simple tips for you people who are still searching for best decision. Let God do the rest must be placed above all the tips, though. Happy searching, may be? :9 I’m searching for mine too.

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