The summer before my senior year of high school I got the biggest opportunity of my life. I was offered a student research position at… *drumroll* NASA!
I thought I was living my dream.
I had been doing research for almost two years at that point, and I jumped at it eagerly. I ended up working (I use the word ‘working’ loosely, I did bioinformatic work remotely) on a project called BioRock for my entire senior year and my first semester of college, I thought I was living my dream.
If that were the case, then this would be a pretty short article; I got my dream job in high school, and kept going. Well, it wasn’t.
The more time that I spent on this project, the more I realized that the work was tedious, mundane, and frankly boring.
This isn’t an article written to bash on research work, because it definitely had its moments. The feeling of completing the paper, finishing a sub-project, or meeting a deadline was exhilarating.
It had dawned on me that everything positive that I got out of research I got because a task was finished. It felt good to be done. The journey wasn’t exciting anymore and, for me, that was a deal breaker.
Writing as a Passion
Now, backtrack a little to the 5th grade; I wrote my very first poem and was suddenly overcome with an infatuation for the art of poetry.
I littered my notes app with long spoken word pieces, submitted my work for in school competitions, and would later go on to compete in local and national poetry competitions.
In fact, a good amount of the scholarships I got for college were poetry or literature related.
Today my love for writing has bled into all parts of literature, the classics, modern, YA. You name it, I’ve read it.
Put the slow realization that I wasn’t built for research, my love for poetry, and the fact that I was in my first year of college together, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an identity crisis!
With the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine in full swing, I had started to do a lot more writing. I wrote when I wasn’t working on my research project, in between homework assignments, at the park.
Writing had consumed my being.
It had been 7 months since I first started writing on Medium and I was making the most of it, publishing poetry regularly in Literally Literary and occasionally in Mind Cafe.
It was exhilarating. I was putting my writing out there and people were listening.
It was then that I decided to switch from a biology major to an English major and pursue a career in writing. It was then that I decided to turn over a new leaf.
Follow Your Dreams
Disney and Pixar’s Soul came out on Christmas Day, 2020. A month after my striking revelation and before I had set my decision in stone. I sat down to watch it with my family a few days after the New Year, and it really struck a chord with me.
Much like Joe, I had gotten this big opportunity to do what I had wanted to do my whole life, and I took it. But afterwards, I still felt empty and unfulfilled.
Soul, Disney and Pixar’s first movie aimed towards adult topics (what caused my existentialism), tries to teach us that we aren’t built for one particular thing.
Sure, we might have a spark, something that makes us tick, but that isn’t necessarily our purpose in life.
I ended up talking to my mom the next day about switching my career path, and she couldn’t have been more supportive.
‘Soul’ and My Writing
I realized, along with Joe Gardner, that life doesn’t have a solid purpose. I wasn’t put here to do research, I wasn’t even put here to write.
I was put here to live every day to the fullest. To live each small moment not for the world but for myself, and if I am truly doing what’s best for me I can’t possibly have a negative impact on the world.
Impact on My Writing
This theme has even started to show in my poetry as my focus has shifted to moments in life. I paint these vivid pictures so that I can keep them in my back pocket.
I recently posted a poem called Small and Significant, and that poem is what spurred on this article.
Yes, we are all small. No, we might not all make a big difference in the world. But why is that such a bad thing?
Live for those around you — for the ones that you love the most. Make a difference in their world. If you can do that, then you’ll be able to find gratification in your life and beauty in the world.
Small and Significant, A Poem:
It is quite beautiful,
The view from my apartment.
For miles above my ceiling.
I feel unimportant,
But not in the small sense —
As the ocean is to the moon,
I am merely entertainment.
A spectacle to be beheld.
My time feels like it’s up,
I feel like there’s nothing left for me to do.
So I’ll just sit here,
And wait to get sick
And wait to forget how to breathe.
p.s. I almost forgot, we should stay in touch! Follow me on Instagram :).
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