Five years ago, I abandoned my three-year-old blog and 3,700 followers. It felt like a home, until it didn’t. The community was filled with support, encouragement, and just enough heckling to scare me away.
The tagline of that blog was “the subjective perspective of an analytical analyst,” and apart from being a mouthful, those words a comforting assurance that I’ve been on the right path all along.
Several weeks ago, my best friend encouraged me (for the hundred time) to leave my job and back to school—the original plan that fell by the wayside when I saw the flashing money signs. For years, I’ve been telling her that I can’t bring myself to go into debt without full certainty that the program, and the career, are the perfect fit. She rebutted that it doesn’t work that way.
On this particular occasion, she brought up a guest speaker who had spoken to her Occupational Therapy Master’s class. The guest professor talked about Human-Centered Design, otherwise known as Ergonomics. Ergonomics is defined as an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that people and things interact more efficiently and safely. The profession spans a wide range of applications, from web design to prosthetics. I was immediately intrigued.
I spend eight hours a day sitting in a Herman Miller Aeron chair, a $1,000 office chair build on the foundation of ergonomics. There’s a stark contrast between the intentional curvature and give of the Aeron as compare to my cheap pleather desk chair at home. I had not given it much thought previously but people, including my boss, will gladly pay for comfort, safety and solutions to their most pervasive problems.
I left dinner with my friend, and I immediately set out to research Human-Centered Design and Engineering. The more I read on the subject, the more convinced I became that this would be the ideal career for me.
Several years ago, I haphazardly presented who I was and what I stood for: the subjective perspective of an analytical analyst. In other words, I was a human being asking questions, observing, analyzing, sharing, and looking forward. In Human-Centered Design, the design cycle consists of inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Looking back, it’s amusing it realize how closely my way of thinking mirrored that of Ergonomics, how close I was without realizing it.
Since the start of the year, I have been delving into the topics as deeply as I can: watching TEDtalks, reading articles, speaking to university advisors, and exploring my own interest surrounding the topic of Ergonomics. My interest has been growing exponentially alongside my research. This is it.
If you’ve ever fallen in love—met the love of your life, your soulmate—it feels like that: predestined, inevitable. The possibilities seem endless. I could learn coding and build websites, apps, and virtual reality software; I could design functional prosthetics, health-promoting furniture, or safer vehicles; I could study and systematically redesign the way that people approach health habits, media consumption, and daily routines; I could create tools to support people, to promote a better world.
I still have much to learn in over the next several months to prepare for the application process. Which professors do I hope to work with? What specific topics, methods, and areas am I most interested in exploring? How can I ensure I’m included in the 13% accepted to the program?
There is so much ahead for but, for the first time in year, I have the drive, the motivation, and the dream to become something more. I have a vision for my future, for my potential to have in impact in a tangible way which draws upon my strengths, interests, and values.
This is my new home, my level up; a place where questions might now be met with a whisper of an answer. This is me returning to my roots and my passion, this time with a fire burning in my bones and a confidence that I am on my path. And, damn, does it feel good to be back.