Royston: Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams


“I tell you all this as a way to paint a picture of my path to where I am and help you learn from my mistakes. I was nowhere near having things figured out, but that’s okay,” writes Summer Sports Editor Christian Royston. 

Christian Royston

I wish someone had told me sooner that it was okay to go off the beaten path and take time to find what I was passionate about. I’ve had a somewhat unique experience when it comes to my career path, and as cheesy as it sounds, I wished I would have done a little more soul searching in my time.

You only have one life, so the last thing you want is for that life to be filled with regret.

Sixteen to 17-years-old seems like such a young age to be expected to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. That’s the norm now, but that doesn’t mean you need to stick to that first option your high school self picked out in a rush.

Looking back, I should have made the leap sooner and gone after a career that made me happy. Now here I am, a 24-year-old sitting in the same classrooms as freshmen six years younger than me, going through the college process all over again.

I’m happy I’m starting the journey over again because making the choice to come back to school was one of the hardest decisions of my life. Now, not a day goes by when I’m not grateful I decided to pursue my passion.

To look at how I got to where I am, we have to go back a little way. The journey is worth it, I promise.

Throughout my life, academics always came easy to me. I was in advanced classes in every subject and even had to travel to my local high school to take math classes while I was still in middle school.

Any career path was open to me, and I knew that which was a little scary. How would I narrow down what I wanted to do when there were so many options?

At the time, I didn’t really have any passions. I was somewhat interested in robotics, mainly because of my natural curiosity, and I excelled the most in math and science.

In the end, I decided engineering was probably the best career choice for me because of how easy math came to me and because of a push from my parents. I could get my four-year degree, get a well-paying job and set myself up for the future. But one nagging question stuck in the back of my mind.

Was there more to life than this?

I kept asking myself this question throughout my first four years of college. As I sat in boring lecture halls and struggled through increasingly difficult classes, I wondered what I wanted to do with my future.

I wasn’t sure what engineering I wanted to do when I got to college. I made my decision in a rush after entering orientation as a non-declared engineering student before my advisor pressured me to choose computer engineering because of my interest in software and electrical engineering.

Computer engineering was anything but a breeze to me. What had come naturally to me throughout high school was causing me restless nights every day of the week.

I couldn’t even count the number of times I gave up on assignments or projects halfway through and just turned in garbage work, hoping for pity points. If I’m being honest, the only reason I even made it through the program was because of my many friends who were in the same boat but smart enough to figure out things I couldn’t.

Every time I hit my breaking point with the major, I kept telling myself, “At some point, it’s going to get better.” Spoiler alert, it never did.

I assumed the reason I was unhappy was that the core classes in engineering didn’t interest me, and later when I could pick classes, I would find something I liked. After the first semester of my junior year, I realized that wouldn’t be the case.

I struggled with anything that came my way, and the things I thought would be interesting ended up causing me more headaches. At that point, I should’ve changed majors, but I thought I might as well finish it and move on with my life.

This was mistake number two. Immediately after graduating with my degree in computer engineering, COVID hit the U.S., and it hit hard.

What little job prospects I had disappeared in the blink of an eye. There I was, a 22-year-old with a degree in computer engineering, bagging groceries for a living.

After months and months of looking for better jobs, I realized the reason people didn’t want me was that they saw how little I wanted to work in the field. In the winter of 2020, I hit rock bottom.

I was by far the unhappiest I had ever been, and I knew something needed to change. My “coming to Jesus” moment came during an interview I had for a software engineering job.

I was asked, “what is your dream job?” They even emphasized that they didn’t want to hear the basic answer, “working at insert company here.”

At that moment, without even realizing I said, “I want to work in sports.” Not only work in sports, I wanted to write for sports.

I remembered back to my junior year of college. I was sitting in some computer science class that I was bound to barely scrape by in, not listening to a word the professor was saying.

I didn’t care though; I had my own priorities. I was creating my first mock draft for the upcoming NFL season, analyzing and watching tape on hundreds of potential prospects.

This was the first year I did an NFL mock draft, and now it’s become a yearly tradition of mine. I realized the only time in my entire college experience I was actually enjoying life was when I was talking about sports, watching NFL games, playing fantasy football and coming up with embarrassingly hot takes about football.

My college experience might have been unique in its own right, but at the end of the day, it was probably similar to many others. I knew what my passion was all along, but I was too blinded by my view of a future that was never meant to be mine.

I thought I could bear living unhappily for the rest of my life if it meant I was financially comfortable. What was I thinking?

I wasn’t put on this earth to be another person who went down the basic route; I needed to find my own path.

So there I was, 23 years old, starting my college journey over again. This time would be different, though. I knew what I wanted, and I was going to get it.

I came back to school as a journalism student, and luckily most of my credits transferred over so I could jumpstart that process. I joined the Iowa State Daily in my first semester back after talking with multiple sports editors.

I won’t lie, there have been many ups and downs in my transition to journalism. It is a complete 180 from engineering.

In the end, the choice to come back and pursue my passion was 100 percent worth it. From covering the fall softball scrimmage season to being the sports editor over the summer, my experience at the Iowa State Daily has been the best experience of my life.

I was hesitant if I made the right decision at first, but now that I’ve started to put in the hours, I know that this is what I was put on the earth to do. 

Telling stories is my passion, and it always has been. It just took some time for me to open my eyes.

I tell you all this as a way to paint a picture of my path to where I am and help you learn from my mistakes. I was nowhere near having things figured out, but that’s okay.

Life is about making mistakes and learning from them. Not only this, life is about living it the way you want to live it.

The only one that can decide how to live YOUR life is YOU.

Chase your dreams. I did, and I am happier now than I’ve been in a long time.