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Follow your Passion, but be smart about it.

  1. Mar 9, 2014 #1
    About 2 years ago I first posted on this forum. I sought career advice about following a passion of mine, physics. I was pretty starry-eyed at the time, with just a brazen curiosity and some intuition to guide my self directed studies. At the time I was working in marketing / restaurants / construction and bouncing around between jobs. I wasn't really satisfied with it, had a B.A., and was considering law school even though I knew my passion was science.

    I came on the forum looking for advice. The overwhelming amount of it said, don't be an idiot and go back to school for physics, you sound like a newbie, you'll earn more money as a lawyer, you dont just do it on a whim, etc etc.

    I felt pretty shitty about it, was made to feel like I was naive and childish. But I disregarded the advice and went for it anyway.

    Well, here I am 2 years later. I'm nearing completion of my first year of sciences, doing the basics along with a bunch of 18 year olds (I am 25). At first it was jarring, literally stepping back in time for me. Now, here I am about to enter into the major of engineering physics, something I would have thought impossible 2 years ago. I've just won a summer research grant that is way beyond my belief, been volunteering in a lab all semester helping a great team build an STM and MBE (just the fact I can walk into an advanced physics research lab and work and just "be there" is incredible to me), am involved with programming extra curriculars and have already networked and met with a few people doing what I'd like to do. In short, its gone better than I could have ever imagined in all likelihood.

    Which is all great. I'm not here to gloat. I'm here to tell anyone else there having doubts about their chosen path, or thinking they shouldn't risk doing something more interesting versus more conventional - you can do it, it is doable, and it can turn out way better than you had ever hoped. In fact, I was never even a "mathy" guy. I sucked at math in high school, did poorly in my first degree in math courses. But I worked my *** off at it, and now its no problem. I also never programmed or understood electronics at all, and now I'm starting to. In fact, I've gone from what you classically think of as "english major literature poetry guy" to "hard core sciences geek" in the span of about a year.

    Anyone out there thinking they are too late, missed the boat, not good enough, not capable, to do something they really enjoy and love - hell no. You have to work the system, be smart about it, plan long-term, do a lot of things. But in the end, its totally worth it, you'll be happier than you ever imagined, and couldn't imagine things any other way.

    In short, don't doubt yourself. You lose when you doubt yourself. You win when you don't.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Good to hear it - I get flack for telling people to follow their passion.
    You may not make as much money - but you'll be happier.

    Naturally anything done stupidly is going to go pear shaped.

    When I first heard the advise "follow your passion" I thought he said "follow your poisson", so I duly got a fish.
    ... pretty son both our lives had a lot of weed in it, and the glass needed cleaning... after a while someone kindly pointed out the error, but I'm still puzzled by the way these food flakes sometimes drift out of the sky and I remain suspicious of nets appearing out of nowhere.
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