Changing directions (or finding the courage to move forward)

Thankfully my work ethic does not mirror my commitment to blogging! I have been hesitant to post for a couple reasons. First, I have not been doing any new research (and I originally envisioned this blog to be more research-oriented), but mainly I have not been ready to put into words my choice to leave graduate school with a Master’s.

There are many, many factors that contributed to my decision to leave. Those close to me have probably heard them far too many times (I tend to talk and talk and talk about things before ever taking any real action—a quality that I am constantly working on). Some may have been within my realm of control—others certainly were not (RIP funding for ecological research). Ultimately though, at this point in my life, I do not see myself as a professor or as an ecologist heading up my own lab, and 6+ years is far too long to spend preparing for a career that I do not want.

I have no regrets about coming to Berkeley, but if I could go back to my overly eager, ambitious senior year self, I would remind her of a few things:

  1. Taking a break from school is not a sign of weakness or failure.
  2. You do not need to have your life planned out at 21.
  3. Don’t settle for the practical, predictable choice.

I still have moments where I wonder if I am doing the right thing. I have always had this fervent desire to achieve, which has treated me well in terms of my academic success but sometimes gets in the way of my happiness. And then couple that with an occasionally paralyzing fear of failure. Failing my mentors. Failing my family. Failing myself. The more I reflect on "failure" though, the clearer I can see that by leaving I am not failing myself. If I were to stay in something that makes me unhappy and not give myself the chance to see what else is out there, then I would be failing myself (and my family, who truly bear the brunt of my complaining).

Berkeley has been one curve in my certainly non-linear life path. My path may be windier than most, but the point of life isn’t about reaching a destination anyway, is it?