Why marine biologists can’t walk on the beach: and other musings

It’s there; the passion is still there. It’s buried deep down within in me somewhere. This location is often unknown to me, like a common spot I misplace my keys and the names of people I should know. Because it’s out of my periphery I regularly convince myself that it is in fact not there at all. I have it in my mind like a mantra; it is gone, I am void of it, and I am better now. 

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It’s been a little over a year that I’ve been out of school, out of my oceanic world, and out of place. I still desperately love science and the sea. I still want to be the kick-ass marine biologist that I’ve dreamed about being since I was 15. But somewhere along this journey, serpentine-ing through life and it’s obstacles, I have totally lost my way. Most days are now spent trying hard to pull away from the watery world that led me astray. Sometimes I feel betrayed by my field of study–how could I have been so wrong? How could something that I thought would fuel and fulfill me also make me feel as hollow as a shell that’s washed up  on the beach.

These days I find myself so hellbent on trying to be something new. I’ll be a writer, or an artist, or a vagabond. Hell, I’ll commit my days to working in an office convincing myself everyday that I’m okay…it’s what I want. I can do this most days. I can do it…until I go for a walk on the beach. Then it’s almost impossible to lie to myself. I am instantly filled with euphoria when I am on the beach. Especially the beach in the winter, when I have to bundle up under flannel layers and beefy boots. I can walk miles along the waters edge and not come across another soul–not another sound. It is just me and the pounding force of the wind and waves. This is the greatest gift for my chaotically loud mind, to be quieted in sheer comparison. To work through my shit all I have to do is walk. It’s when I let my mind and body wander that I believe they find their true calling.Screenshot 2016-01-12 at 16.59.04.png

Suddenly I’m bent over in the sand shifting through frozen shells looking for signs of parasites and carnage. I find myself flipping over a sea star looking at the tubfeet and racking my brain for the scientific name. I’m noticing the difference in dune heights, the slope of the beach, and the wrackline. This is where I am safe, this is where I think that I belong. But it’s like I don’t have the rights to call myself a marine biologist anymore. I have no initiative to stand up dust the sand off of my clothes and charge into a lab demanding a job. And I’m far too exhausted from years of education to run back through the halls of academia. So I do nothing; instead wondering how I am so certain this is what I am supposed to do but am so unwilling to go out and get it. Rather I cling to the memories of what it was like to have fit so perfectly in a space the universe had designed for me. It’s like refusing to let go of an old heartbreak because the wound just hurts too good. And despite how much I want to be a scientist I am so terrified of sitting still. I am so terrified of only getting one: either I can have the career that fulfills me or I can go out and lose myself in the world. I don’t believe I can do both. I can be a scientist or I can be an artist (slash writer, slash vagabond). IMG_2462

So what do you do about buried passion? What does a twenty-something with a degree in Marine Biology, a burning desire to see every corner in the world, and an insatiable appetite for a greater purpose do with her life? How am I, at my age, supposed to choose the path I’m to walk over the next 60 odd years? What happens if it’s the wrong path, or it’s too late, or if no one will walk with me? These might seem like the petty questions of a naive 24 year old with no sweet fucking clue–and maybe that is exactly what they are. But honestly, I ask you, what in the hell am I supposed to do now? How do I exit the paradox in which I’m too afraid to do anything so I do nothing?

Make a move. I can hear you screaming it at me. You, the universe, or whoever you are…I can hear you.

I am trying.

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