Senior year of high school, we had a class period right before Christmas break where some grads from the year before came back to talk about their life so far, either from going through school or jumping right into work. The class went well and we heard from about 20 people, but one talk sticks out in my mind. One of the guys who came back was a little older (he was back to see his sister), and he talked about what his experience in college had been like so far. He’d gotten into the University of Minnesota’s engineering school, but after two or so years he decided that science wasn’t really his thing. He transferred into the College of Liberal Arts and started studying in the humanities and social sciences.
At the time, I was headed into an engineering program myself, and would be finishing the program at the U of M. I remember thinking, “that’s not gonna be me. I’m gonna stick with it and become an engineer.”
Flash forward roughly a year. I went through the first semester of physics and was pretty sure that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. However, I had a department scholarship, and felt like I needed to see the year through. I can remember sitting in a physics lecture that spring during a discussion about volts, and thinking “I really just don’t care.” I finished the final first that semester because I only answered about half of the questions, took my C in the class, and left the program.
I stuck with math for another year before finally deciding that I wasn’t really interested in pursuing that field either, and wound my way into the humanities and social sciences. Looking back, I realize now that I shouldn’t be surprised that I ended up where I did. Science was never really my thing; social studies was always my favorite class. When we tested in sixth grade to get into upper level classes, I didn’t even take the science test because I didn’t like it as much as the other stuff. The only reason I ended up in upper level science classes in high school was because the other ones just weren’t good (BJH people know what I’m talking about).
Even with this realizations, I found it interesting to learn that I wasn’t a science guy. I had skills related to math and science, but enjoyed other things a lot more. I like science fiction, but I wonder if I like it more because I don’t really need to fully understand what’s happening (and a decent chunk of that is made up anyway). Even now, I still have a fairly engineering-oriented mind, and I like to know how things work and how to fix things that break, but when it came to actually studying this stuff from the ground up instead of just trying on my own, I found myself incredibly bored and disinterested.
Realizing that whatever I do in the future will be hard and take large amounts of work and focus, I am glad that I moved away from science. I didn’t really like it, wasn’t interested, and would rather expend my energy doing what I want and like. I realize that there are limits to the equation of only doing what I like versus doing what is necessary, but I found personally that doing a job or studying a field I don’t like burns me out much more quickly than the opposite. When it comes to the future, I’m just not really a science guy, and I’m gonna find something else to do.