What am I?
What am I?
The question hit me hard as I sat down at my cubical today, like I have thousands of times before. I’ve been in a sort-of ‘funk’ lately about my job – my “career” – and basically where my life is going and what I want out of it. Could this be my mid-life crisis (hopefully quarter-life crisis)? I don’t care. But I feel like I’m at the point in my life where I’ve accomplished most things society has defined as necessary: college, marriage, fatherhood, career. I’ve occupied my free time with a few hobbies that I’m very interested in but I have yet to fully embrace one or the other. I’ve reached the point where I have enough experience to know how the world works and I’m still young enough to have the drive to pursue any crazy idea I can dream up. Now I just have to take the leap. Wait, let me take a step back. I need to pick which path, then take the leap. I’m ready to take the leap, I just need to choose the direction. That’s what I need to decide: direction. I believe that direction will determine who I am – or, who I will be.
I feel like I’m on cruise control right now. I get up, go to work, go home and do housework, play with the kids then put them to bed, then drink away my free time with trivial pursuits like video games and other pet projects. But that’s not what I want to say I did with my life thirty years from now. What will I say? I was just an ordinary working schmo who did what he did to lead a normal life? Many people define who they are by their career. But for me, my career right now is not my passion. Technically, I am an Electronics Service Engineer at a reputable company. In all honesty, it is a very respectable career that I am proud of. There are many folks out there whose dream it is (or was) to have such a career, but it’s not my dream and I’d rather not define myself as something I don’t believe in.
– Full disclosure: I am not complaining by any means. I am very grateful of my life and very proud of it. And I am fully aware that literally, a majority of the human population of the planet would do anything to have the opportunities I’ve had in my life, let alone completely swap lives. The amount of poverty and human suffering on this planet is so profound, but that’s a completely different subject. With that being said, I believe everyone should pursue their dreams to the fullest extent no matter their background or privilege.
I wish I would’ve had this crisis BEFORE I started college. That would have been the more appropriate time. I would have had the freedom to choose my desired path and change course if need be, without the fear of not being able to support my family in case things went wrong. Choosing my path now is just so much more daunting and frankly, scary. But hindsight’s 20/20 and it is, by definition, impossible to know life’s possibilities without having life experiences. No one can know what they want that early in life.
So what are some things that I want? I love reading, and I really like writing, I’m just not particularly good at writing. That could come with practice though, I guess. I love astronomy; heck, I built a full astronomical observatory in my backyard! But in all actuality, to have a career in astronomy I would have had to start preparing back in college or even high school. It just doesn’t seem plausible at this stage in my life. I like electronics and computers but I don’t love them enough to base my life on them. I’d love to be able to call myself a pilot. It has been a life-long dream of mine to acquire my pilot’s license and fly – which I still plan on doing. But it may be too late to pursue that path as a career since aviation is such a competitive field. I should’ve started a lot earlier. I tried being a musician and accomplished a lot of things I’m very proud of; writing original music, recording a few albums, playing major venues, being on the radio, and meeting other famous musicians was a wonderful life experience but to make a career out of it was simply not practical. Taking the entrepreneur route and building a full recording studio was extremely rewarding as well which taught many lessons but again, it did not make practical sense. I wish I could simply be a scientist, but in today’s highly specialized world, being a ‘scientist’ doesn’t really mean anything. Science is a set of tools and to be a scientist you need to apply those tools. It is what you apply those tools to which defines what kind of scientist you are. I’m interested in all things science; microscopy, spectroscopy, biology, geology, astronomy, physics, genetics, zoology, on and on and on… but I haven’t honed in on any one of them enough to make a life out of it.
My cousin recently got a position at the Ohio Historical Society and I was extremely jealous when I heard the news. I’ve always loved museums. Just the idea of a museum is intriguing to me; the raw fact that a museum is basically a knowledge depository coupled with tangible components – it just brings the history to life! The stories the artifacts have to tell, the emotion behind the photos and images that line the walls, the hard-earned data scientists have carefully weaned out of the noise and nurtured into a reconstructed idea of the past… it is so enlightening it makes me proud and humbled to be a part of The Universe. I’ve admired museums for so long that I started my own tiny natural history museum inside of my observatory. It basically amounts to a few fossils and things mounted for display on a few shelves – nothing major. But every time I look over at the beautifully symmetric dragonfly I mounted or the 350 million year old fossil I found in my backyard, it reminds me that I’m a part of something bigger than myself. History and knowledge really brings that idea to light. In an effort to marry history and knowledge together, I used my electronics and engineering experience and love for natural history to design and build my own version of a scientific planet rover then named it after a local Native American civilization which I researched at the Ohio Historical Society Museum. That was a great project…
A museum curator is something I could honestly say to myself that I’m proud to be. When asked what my job was at a party, I would love to tell someone that I was a museum curator. I’m unapologetically afraid that I would end up being ‘that guy’ who would not shut up about his job. To be honest, I would be proud to say that I am a part of a museum no matter what the title, it doesn’t necessarily have to be curator. Supporting the IT department would be extremely fulfilling and in fact, an argument could be made that position would be better suited and more mutually beneficial given my background.
I guess if I had to describe myself in two words, it would be: interestedly driven. I want to know. I have a passion for learning. I am infatuated with the world around me and I want to scream it from mountaintops. And when you’re in love, you want to tell the world. I want to learn everything other people have discovered, and make new discoveries of my own. Then, I want to tell everyone I know about the world around them because sadly, many people haven’t been exposed to the realities of our universe – or worse, have been told they’re not capable of understanding them. I believe everyone has the right to live freely and should be empowered with the knowledge they desire.
The fact is, I don’t *need* a new job. I am perfectly stable where I’m at now. I feel bad even writing this when so many people are out of work because of the economic slum we’ve recently endured. They are looking for jobs just to support their family. But to reiterate, I believe we all have a right to pursue our dreams regardless of our circumstance. My dream is to pursue a career that I can say I’m proud of and believe in. I just need to find the path leading there…