What do I want to be when I grow up?

This blog has served largely to document the above question since its inception two years ago. Although I am much happier about my career prospects than when I started, I am finding it increasingly true that my vocational ambitions do not conform to conventional 9-to-5 type jobs.

To recap, I am doing a Masters in Environmental Studies at York University. The peculiar thing about my program is that it defines the ‘environment’ as everything that encompasses our physical, social, political, cultural, historical, natural and economic environments. As such, we have theatre graduates trying to become urban agriculturists or planners, musicians trying to become experts in environmental health, engineers doing work on energy policy and arts and culture. I am really enlivened by the diversity of my peers, and wish there was something akin in life that would enable me to carry forward this sense of interdisciplinarity that I have always longed for. However, I know I need more of a focused vision to hone in on what I want to do for subsistence versus what I would do if subsistence was not at all an issue.

It’s very recent, perhaps, just over a year since I have started considering science writing as a real career. What I enjoy about the prospect of becoming a science writer is the extent to which I am the master of my own schedule. This is one of the things I enjoy about academia – the ability to manage my own schedule and workload. I can carry much higher workloads if I know that it is okay for me to wake up at 9 AM then work late into the night rather than try to get everything done between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM. Human creativity and inquisitiveness simply does not work that way.

I also have a great love for academia – whether it relates to social sciences or humanities. I am less hopeful about myself going back to do actual laboratory-based or field-based data collection and analysis for scientific research, however, for the right opportunity, I think I could be persuaded. In either case, I don’t mind working in the social sciences, the humanities or the pure and applied sciences or even their allied organizations if it meant that I would have some hand in contributing to contemporary knowledge production. I want there to be a use for what I am researching and learning outside the immediate academic arena. Someone once told me that this means I could pursue a job in the archival or museum sector, which also thrills me, but I have yet to seek out further information as to whether or not this is a feasible choice.

Lastly, encouraged by some professors and peers, I am interested in, almost embarrassingly so, in the prospect of developing a career in the arts, or science-allied arts. I would think of my art as working off of scientific knowledge, because the art I produce for my own leisure has always been a response to science. I enjoy the interpretative capacities creative professionals are able to use, and I wish there was a way for people trained in pure and applied sciences to become artists in their own right. I suppose there is always scientific illustration and communication, but what I am imagining is much broader than science textbooks, visuals and news stories.

Perhaps over the course of my graduate degree I will be able to further understand what motivates me for a long term career. I have also decided that perhaps it is futile to think of one’s career as a singular entity, and entertain the possibility that one could pursue more than one career simultaneously. This is the possibility that entices me the most for now.


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