Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Should I go to school for Physics?

  1. Nov 14, 2011 #1
    I have always been a Jack of all trades - but a master of none. Sit me next to an expert and I look like an idiot. But put me at a table in a bar and I can't hold a conversation without explaining the chemical, thermal, and electrical dynamics of lighting a lighter. I have dreams and aspirations - on one hand I can't ignore my creative side and desire to be writer and hope to one day produce a book or maybe even a film. But on the other hand I can't stop thinking about theoretical physics and emerse myself in book after book.

    However, coming to this forum seems to drown out my desire for such endeavors. There are so many people here that are so smart - and the thought of learning the complexities of these theories tires me to exhaustion. I think my creative side has more promise - but I can't seem to find time.

    I go through this cycle all the time. I'll delve into physics for a few months - watch the movie "Primer" a few dozen times trying to grasp every complex detail and dreaming up my own - getting burned out on physics I move to writing where I swing from sci-fi to memoir style. No longer writing a screen play I spend more time questioning my morals in life and thinking of what it means to be a good person and relaying that on the pages of a scrap notebook. Eventually those papers pile up in the backseat of my car only to bake in the hot Florida sun and soon be forgotten as I move on to some other obsession. I'll spend several months studying for my MCITP certification tests but never getting to a point to actually go take the tests. Getting burned out on repetitive rebuilding of servers and domains - I move on to something else - maybe gaming to take me into a mind numbing world of uninterrupted pointless thought - that until my wife interrupts for me to take out the trash. Soon the obsessive game playing creates arguments because of lack of responsibility that comes with such obsession... Then I focus on my job as a Systems Administrator - going hard at it for several weeks and being the best of the best on my team. But the lack of recognition brings me down and I slow back to a regular pace and do what I can to get by. The idle mind then sets back in motion the cycle of everything once again...

    Life is meaningless... I just want to make some meaning out of it...
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey timetravel_0

    In terms of advice, my advice to you is to just do something, and do something that is specific and focused.

    It's ok to want to do many things, but it is also a good idea to at least one or two things really well and nowadays doing even something little very well takes lots and lots of effort, time, and experience to build up.

    What will happen is that as you get better at said thing, you will feel a lot better as you see your progress and the rewards it gives you and that will reinforce the positivity to do even more.

    Also with regards to "meaning" in life, that is something that is unique to all of us. Sometimes we have to discover through a lot of trial and error what that really is. Sometimes we figure it out early, and sometimes we figure it out late. Chances are though, if you are keeping yourself busy doing something, then you will be progressing towards figuring it out than if you just did nothing.

    Also with regards to learning stuff like physics and mathematics and saying that we are smart: a lot of us are indeed smart, but most of us here just really want to learn.

    You have to realize that we all ask questions, we all make mistakes, we all don't know all the answers, and when you dig underneath the surface, we are all more or less the same. Some might have predispositions in certain areas, but we still have to do work to make them better.

    If you want to do something, my suggestion is you find like minded people. Find people that are better than you that are willing to help you in a fair way. If you are willing to do the effort on your part, you will find at least one person in that category. Surround yourself with the kind of people you want to be, and when you get there, pass on your knowledge to other people who were just like you.

    Finally, get help when you need it. You don't have to know everything and chances are you never will: so get help when you need it.
  4. Nov 14, 2011 #3
    I appreciate the well thought reply.

    I have a career as a Systems Administrator for a large health insurance corporation. IT seems to be my niche and always has. I've spent many years studying and learning computer systems, application and web development, networking and administration. I find my job rewarding - I just want to be more than some "IT Guy". I find it quite annoying when someone thinks I'm a Help Desk tech. An administrator isn't a helpdesk tech (not in large corporations anyway). I am responsible for maintaining servers and the messaging infrastructure of my company and ensuring user connectivity to such resources. Unfortunately when I tell someone what I do they think I answer phones and tell people how to fix their problems... conjuring up images of the geeksquad IT guy and ironically because the lack of technical experience with our own helpdesk - I do end up providing end-user support. My position has taken a lot of dedication to observing and understanding the common issues that arise with day to day operations in an Exchange environment. I guess what I really want is a little respect...

    Through my anxiety of feeling I am not enough and not seen as enough - I drive myself to pursue random obsessions in my free time... I agree that amercing myself among people who share similar interests and knowledge will help me learn and progress more in my knowledge of desired topics.

    But I fear that if I take the time for such things I will lack in other responsibilities. I have a wife, I am the "Cook" of the house (culinary being another one of my great obsessions) - going to school will take up much of my time with my wife and I fear that she will feel neglected if I were to go to school...

    I'm not sure what I want to do. I just hate the repeatative cycle... I really just want a friend that I can hold a conversation with...

    I don't know... o well.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  5. Nov 15, 2011 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    You should realize that there is a lot of ignorance out there and when it comes to understanding jobs, it is magnified extensively.

    The fact is that most people want to feel like they are important, and a lot of these people try to use a lot of jargon to do so. They also like to do this indirectly by saying that other peoples jobs are not important.

    I wouldn't worry too much about what other people think. It's just using precious energy on something that is not worthwhile.

    What I do advocate however is finding people who are constructively critical. It can be very hard to find these kind of people, because these kind of people don't care if you surpass them in any form, and they will tell you bluntly what they think is wrong and offer what they consider valid tips that will help you.

    If you are around unsecure people, it will just drain energy, and it's not worth putting up with that kind of crap.

    With regards to respect, also most people don't get it. Even people like doctors who have had a lot of training don't always get it. Many people think that GP's are useless (they could have done a google search themselves and just went to the pharmacy is one kind of thinking that exists). People complain about spending money on lawyers, doctors, architects, tradesmen, etc and all of these people have had years of training in their craft.

    The fact is we need all types of people to make this world go around. What happens when there are no plumbers? Water will leak, toilets will stink, and things will be unpleasant. What happens when no one does engineering? We wont have our phones, our computers, our products (like plastic), and so on. What happens when we don't have our sysadmins? Workers screw up their computer, potentially installing virii, data may get stolen, and a business may become effectively compromised.

    We need everyone to participate to make this world go around and people that do not think this are extremely naieve.

    So yeah my advice is to try and not worry about respect because quite frankly not many people get it, and sadly a lot of the time, the people who deserve respect don't get it, while the people who may not deserve it as much do. It's a crazy world and truth is stranger than fiction.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook