“Time is money.” You’ve likely encountered and been influenced by this aphorism in one way or another. I always took this phrase to mean that time has a monetary value, something that could be spent. I almost treated time as cash and avoided making bad purchases on things that didn’t have value with my time. My perspective didn’t change until a crucial conversation with my high school counselor.
I remember applying to internships in high school as I was exploring potential career paths to pursue. I was afraid of spending my time at an internship that didn’t align with my future career goals and wasting my time at an internship that wouldn’t help me pursue whatever career I decided on. My counselor told me about how she always wanted to be an architect, but before deciding to study it in college, her dad made her get an internship to make sure it was what she wanted to do. It turned out she hated architecture and dreaded every day of her internship, but she didn’t regret doing it because it helped her realize what she didn’t want to do.
Following her footsteps and taking this advice to heart, I got an internship at my local hospital. I was apprehensive if working in the medical field was something I would want to pursue, and upon completing the internship I similarly realized it was an environment that I couldn’t see myself thriving in. From this experience, I learned that I need a career that aligns with something I am deeply passionate about or I’ll l lose interest later down the line. I also learned that I want a career where each day brings something new, which was what excited me at my internship. And finally, I learned that no experience is a “waste of time.”
Every experience you choose to embark on in your life is just that: An experience and opportunity to learn more about others, yourself, and who you want to be. When I was able to let go of the idea that I need to allocate my precious sacred time to things that checked off exactly what my resume should look like, I found myself slowly getting a better grasp of my identity. Exploration is not a waste of time. We have our whole lives for a career, and as someone who has always and continues to explore what nook and cranny of the world I belong in, I can attest that some of my most valuable learning moments have come from the experiences that I least expected.