Why I walked away from research

A month ago, Mantle Magazine published another article of mine: The travels and trails of a marine biologist in the Philippines. AKA Why I gave up on being a researcher, it was originally titled “Wanted: Perfect Scientist” but yay for editors fixing it.

All in all, this was a very difficult article to write and something a long time coming. Writing was difficult because it forced me to organize my thoughts and put into words the jumbled mess of emotions that came with putting aside a childhood dream. How do you reconcile working so hard for so many years and then giving it up?

Me during happier times

Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you want them to. Sometimes due to things you can control, sometimes due to things you can’t.

Sometimes, you find another path. Sometimes the new path works, sometimes it doesn’t. Then you have to go find a new path.

I’ll be the first to admit that I greatly miss doing research. Getting to go around the Philippines, meeting new people, discovering new things. Heck, I even miss going to conferences, because where else am I going to meet other coral geeks?

Only time will tell if leaving research was the best thing to do, but it was the best thing to do at that point in time.

To the graduate students reading this, may you find your own place in the world. If it’s in the hallowed halls of academia, may you find the inner fortitude to get through your MS and PhD. If it isn’t, may you find the inner peace to walk away. Both paths are equally valid and are of equal importance in changing the world.

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