This Is Permission to Love a Lot of Different Things
In college, I must have changed majors at least a dozen times.
I entered college with a declared biology major, and graduated with a degree in public relations, and I "decided" on many, many other majors in between.
I struggled (and, to be honest, I still struggle) with definitively declaring what I wanted to do with my life. I loved environmental science and conservation, and I loved creative writing and design. I loved traveling and people, and I loved data and statistics.
For so long, I felt this constant pressure to boil down my passions in life to one singular thing, to one individual career path. I spent night after night my freshman year taking personality quizzes and career aptitude tests online, hoping they'd give me a clue, some window of insight into my future.
The thing about personality quizzes and career aptitude tests is that they rarely tell you things about yourself that you don't already know. Mine always told me the same thing - I should be some kind of artist, creative, some career path with freedom and inspiration.
I don't need to tell you that none of those things sound like an extraordinarily stable career path.
It also just didn't align with the career path I started off convinced I wanted - to become an environmental scientist and work in conservation. The tests were right. I was amazing at my biology classes, which felt like just one big, beautiful story about life on earth. But I failed (literally) when it came chemistry or physics.
But I have loved nature since I was a child. I remember collected bugs in a small terrarium when I was just five or six. During recess in elementary school, I was the weird child in the back of the playground setting up my caterpillar zoo.
I found a passion for animal conservation when my parents sent my brother and I to zoo camp as a chid. The Atlanta Zoo hosted a zoo camp every year where you got to tour the zoo, see "backstage" areas and learn about animals and conservation. I loved zoo camp, passionately. It sparked something in me that still burns to this day.
I love animals and conservation and nature. I also genuinely love public relations work. I also love writing and public speaking and being creative.
I love all these things, and that is okay.
I don't know why, but I've lived with this tension and pressure for so long because I've tried to cram everything I love into one career path.
I know my generation, in particular, grew up hearing how special we were and how if we just follow our passions and dreams we'll find the perfect path for us. I'm calling B.S. on that.
Sometimes the perfect career path is just the one that pays the bills. Sometimes you can find a lot of fulfilment in your job, but have hobbies and passions on the side.
For a long time, I've felt like I couldn't devote time to be passionate about nature because it's not part of my day-to-day routine. But I'm learning that work is just one part of expressing your passions. I'm not a sell-out or a fake person just because I didn't become a scientist. I don't have to choose between an outside-of-work passion of writing or conservation.
It's very possible I'm the only one that feels this way, but I'm writing this in hopes I'm not. I just want to encourage you to pursue your passions, all of them, even if they don't make sense all together.
Life is short, and time spent investing in something that truly makes your heart filled with joy is time well spent on this earth.
What things are you passionate about outside of your career? Leave a comment and let me know!