My quest to rationalize my career choices

Being well informed is really hard, it is both a blessing and a curse. The more you learn, the more guilty you begin to feel to even walk on the earth but the more you learn, the more you understand that the actions you take in your day to day life can make a real difference. Growing up, I wanted to make a difference. Most people assume that the quest to make a difference is often driven by selfishness – I somewhat agree with this statement.

As a child, I was overwhelmed with empathy for all other living things, I wanted to give my leftover pizza hut buffet to the homeless, I wanted to take lost distressed baby rabbits whose Mum had been got in a ‘hit-and-run’ accident to the nearby wildlife rescue unit and I felt guilty for stepping on snails during a nighttime stroll with our family dog. These actions and feelings were not taught to me – they came innately and often left me wondering “why did I deserve to be so lucky whilst others were not so fortunate?”. Was I being selfish, I am still unsure.

As an adult I now debate with myself about whether the path I have chosen is making enough of a difference – do I have the potential to do more? Be more? Help others more?

This leads me on to the statement “the quest to make a difference is often driven by selfishness”. I love the outdoors, I love forests, mountains, and coral reefs, I love dogs, I love the beach, I love my friends and I especially love sitting on a boat and hoping to see a whale…if I get seabirds, porpoises or seals, I will still be in my element but if a whale appears I will be ecstatic. I could sit and watch them in the open ocean for hours and hours without ever becoming an inch bored. I love how evolution and natural selection has created all of these fantastic creatures, communities, and ecosystems that all interact and even depend on one another to survive. Earth is utterly fantastic.

Because of my love for the natural world and my favourites within it, I selfishly have sort out a career studying whales and the marine ecosystem. I do this because I enjoy it and I want to protect it and even if my best efforts to do what I can to protect and sustain the marine environment fall short, I will at least contribute to our knowledge of this system and educate the younger generations about these awesome creatures  – they are just super cool.

I am sure there will still be days that I ponder whether I have made the right career choice. Such questions as “if I became a climate scientist or an environmental lawyer will I have made more of an impact? will I have contributed to the prevention of the climate crisis, poverty or dramatic reductions in biodiversity?” and perhaps the answer to this question is yes, but I have set myself a different quest, a selfish one… to become an ecological statistician that studies whales, because they are super cool and others need to bathe in their awesomeness.

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