At the brink of adulthood, many athletes are faced with the daunting decision of whether to turn professional or not. Ten years ago, I saw the very same decision looming over my head and after much deliberation I decided I wanted to play college golf in America, improve my game there and simultaneously get a college degree. I got a walk-on spot on the San Jose State University golf team and I was set to play on the team for 4 years and then turn pro. Well, atleast, that was the plan.
So, all of 18, I packed my bags and embarked on a journey that turned out quite differently from what I had imagined- with no regrets, however. Half way in to my college career, I found myself gravitating more towards academia. Golf was fun, I was playing well but it wasn’t seeming like a lifelong profession to me. Eventually, I competed all 4 years on the team, graduated with a degree Psychology and discovered that counseling enthused me. Once I graduated, I realized that I was truly passionate about psychology and that I wanted to study more.
I applied to graduate school and got accepted in to my top choice of school, Columbia University. Now when I look back to ten years ago, I would have never imagined that golf would not be my profession and that I would have an education from an Ivy League institution. But, you know what they say, life has many ways to surprise us! My journey so far has been full of experiences and lessons that I will carry with me through life. I feel that there is no merit in all that you learn if you can’t share it and possibly make a difference in someone’s life. So, here I am sharing the top three takeaways from my experiences- 1) Things change- be humble and accept it Life throws curves and bumps in our paths but that doesn’t stop the path from leading us some place. If I had not gone to play college golf, I may not have even looked at America as an option and if that had not happened, I would not have gone to Columbia University and discovered my true passion. Hence, one must make decisions that make most sense at the moment and let life organically show you the way. 2) Education is your biggest weapon No matter how good you are at your sport and no matter how un-inclined you are academically, a college degree is going to be your safety net. Injuries can abruptly end your athletic career and that can be mentally discerning if there is no fall back plan. More so, education opens up so many pathways for you- it gives you control of what field you choose, and it gives you professional flexibility and mobility. 3) Dream Big! Last but not the least- dream big. And if you already dream big, then dream even bigger. Because it is your dreams that pave way for your actions. I could have just chosen to be in my comfort zone in India- I was the #2 ranked Junior in the country and staying back in familiar territory was an option. But I had bigger dreams that I dreamt, fulfilled and finally walked away with an education and a 4 year college golf experience that no one can claim back from me. While applying to graduate school, I didn’t think I could get into an ivy-league but it had always been a dream. I followed it, lived it and fulfilled it. When I look back, I realize that nothing is impossible if you #dreambig and work hard and open the doors for good things to happen to you.