Art or science?

If you’ve read my previous posts or you know me personally, you know I am a scientist with a PhD.  How I ended up with a career in science is bittersweet though.

I’ve been interested in science since I was in middle school.  I remember having one of those mini microscopes and prepared slides that I would observe.  I also used to get pond water samples at the farm land next door to us and view all of the swimming organisms that were living in there (there were a LOT).   It was fun for me to observe them… to this day I still use microscopes at work (albeit way more powerful). In high school, my best friend and I were super science nerds and we took AP Bio together.  We did a lot of dissections and we even had our own mini research project looking at microorganisms that were growing around the high school. However, there was another side to me in high school. I was a total art chick.  My fave fave fave classes were all the art classes I took. That was my time to be creative, artistic, and listen to music while I made unique pieces. Art class was my ‘self-care’ in high school.

No matter how bad a day I was having, art class was something I always looked forward to.  

My goal was to go to art school after high school. I wanted to make a career out of something I loved doing. So, why am I currently a scientist? Well…. parents. Particularly, my mom. She put the kibosh on my art school plans and told me that if she was going to help me out financially with college, then I couldn’t go to art school.  She said that I had no future in art and that I wouldn’t make any money doing it. (HA… joke’s on her… have you seen the current salaries for adjunct professors? Also, the reason I got my real estate license is because I couldn’t find a job in science after my 6 years at Brown University. But, I digress).

Looking back I probably would have done some things differently.  It’s the thing you tell yourself, “If only i knew then what I knew now” kind of statement.  But i didn’t know anything then, I was a 17 year old kid applying to colleges. So, I decided to go to school for biology.  At the time I didn’t know what I wanted to do with (LOL, I still don’t!). But, eventually I was taking pre-med classes hoping to go to optometry school.  During my senior year, I was able to have an internship at Hershey Med Center in the neuroscience department which turned me onto scientific research. So, I ended up not going to optometry school and rather went on to get my master’s in biology at a university near where I grew up.  During that time I was able to do an internship with a neuropsychologist and that led me to look into PhD programs for neuropsychology (and I kind of wish I had gone through with that). But, long story short, I ended up in a research based neuroscience PhD program instead. Like I’ve said before, I do like being in science.  There are parts of it that are super creative (like figuring out what type of experiment to do and trying to decipher what my results mean). I also have the knowledge of helping people by studying various diseases. But, it doesn’t give me the ‘feels’ that I got when I was figuratively knee-deep in my paintings and the world faded into the background.   

I’ve tried some painting, jewelry making, and drawing on the side, but it just wasn’t the same.  I wanted a formal art education. Plus, with all the time that graduate school took, there just wasn’t enough time and money to devote to being creative and purchasing all the supplies that I needed.

All this to say that I am sure this is one of the reasons that to this day I am still “searching” for my perfect career. I think I am also drawn to writing in that it is a creative outlet that I am trying to develop as a skill.  So, for now, my plan is to continue to blog in the hopes of someday writing a book.  I also plan on writing more blogs around my journey as a scientist and the struggles that I face. 

I would love to hear if you have a similar story to mine and where you ended up!  How has your career choice shaped your life or vice versa?