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As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
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Dreaming about our future is a constant pastime of youth. Does it then make sense that later in life we spend a great deal of time reflecting upon our youth? No wonder the wisest of humans remind us to live in the moment! What is the greatest regret of our later years but misspent youth? I think, by that, they meant wasting time worrying about what comes later. Still, don’t we need to be considerate of a path? If we pay no attention to where we are wandering off to, we end up lost. But then, that time is well-spent. Yes?
Of course it was. Figuring out what courses you need to give your greatest attention to in order to get to the place you believe you want to be is never a waste of your time. If you dream of becoming something someday, then you have to take the steps to get to that destination. For me, that meant getting really knowledgeable about the sciences. That was the least of my struggles to come, however.
Reading and learning were my favorite things in the world. Like every other kid, I was asked what I planned to be. That changed many times over the years until I settled on something. What cinched it was my love of learning and wildlife.
Biology was my favorite of all the sciences. Animals meant the world to me. Working with and studying them easily became what I believed was my greatest dream. However, biology is too general of a topic. Students have to become more specialized as they rise through the academic ranks to their degree and future. The question was, what specialization. The answer was mammals. Then the question became which mammals? My favorite animals at the time were giraffe (as they are now), seals and sea lions, and anything canine. In addition to this, I was rather taken with the grandparents’ array of fish tanks. I also adored swimming.
All of the above combined created a desire in me to become a marine biologist and hopefully work with pinnipeds. After all, they’re just sea dogs. Wild ocean canines of a sort, if you will. So, off I went into my teens pursuing biology, field biology, and all the other things to align for a future university degree.
Desire alone isn’t enough to achieve a future dream, however. Math skills were a necessary part of the degree process. Namely, calculus had to be passed to be awarded a degree and along with that came organic chemistry. Unfortunately for me, I ran into egos that threw up roadblocks insurmountable. A course change became necessary. Thus, my hobby of writing became my main focus. Thank the gods I loved it enough to embrace it as fully. Still, there are regrets for not having the wherewithal to get beyond my blockade and work with animals.
Someday, I will retire from my day job, which has made great use of my writing skills. In that period, I will find my way back to wildlife and I’ll be able to write as much as I like. It has not been an easy detour, but there are so many things I would not alter if given the chance to change things for myself to achieve those original goals.
So, here we are–floundering ever forward into another future. There are things we want in our youth and we may plan for them as best as our wisdom at the time allows (and the wisdom of those around us that we rely upon), but never achieve them, not for want but for the rippling effects of chance. Sometimes, you just can’t get around the things that steer you in other directions, nor can you predict how they’ll present.
The wisdom I’ve gained in this journey is to not feel guilt, not to punish myself, and to celebrate the amazing things I have done despite the unpredictable redirections of life. Above all, I will not view myself as a failure. Absolutely I could have surpassed the blocks in mathematics and chemistry with the right mentors. But, was I meant to? I think not.
How do I know? Because I would shrivel up and die without writing, but not working in a zoo has only made me slightly bummed. A dog at my hip is enough for now. Rescuing wildlife later will fill the gap later. Somehow, that avid reader I was as a child tried to tell me where I needed to be. So, just maybe, the biology studies were the real detour?