Going Where You’ve Never Been

October 21, 2012

I haven’t had much to say to share with the world in a while, but this I feel needs to be said.

I’m currently having a crisis of identity. Maybe that’s a little intense, but it’s how I feel at the moment.

I’ve known for a long time that I don’t want to be an artist. I knew years ago, but I was afraid to leave my photography program. After all those years of building a portfolio and learning everything I wanted about photography, I realized early on in my college studies that it wasn’t what I wanted. Unfortunately I was too chicken to do something about it.

A while ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is finishing med school this year. He asked me why I didn’t choose to study a science since it was clearly something that interested me. I can’t remember what my answer was to him then, but now I’m pretty sure I know what my answer is.

I don’t blame anyone but myself for not pursuing science. I went to a great school with extremely bright people. I have faith that all of my friends are going on to do great things as engineers, doctors, marine biologists, and teachers. I love them all, and I have no regrets about going to the only non-secular all-girl school in the Bay Area. I do, however, regret ever feeling like I wasn’t smart enough to study science.

Everyone around me was so fucking smart. A couple of my closest friends were on the robotics team for our school. I always thought it was the coolest thing that they built and programmed robots to compete with other robots around the country. (Seriously, how badass is that?) It’s not that they ever excluded me or anyone else. Everyone was encouraged to participate if they wanted. I just never took the initiative to ask.

It was pretty intimidating to be around people who studied the shit out of cool things. Everyone was so confident and good at what they loved, and I just never felt smart enough to be that cool. So instead I turned to photography because it was something I understood and enjoyed. It became something I wrapped my identity around, as most of us do with things we love growing up.

To be fair, my love of photography started before high school. But my passion for academics didn’t seem to grow the same way. It could be because I was home-schooled for a year, or because I had a bad science teacher one year and couldn’t pull my grades up. Maybe it’s because I felt that good grades were more important than simply enjoying the act of learning.

Regardless of why I didn’t pursue science then, the problem I face now is what to do about it. I am very tired of school and have no interest in returning; however, school seems to be the only option to fully invest myself in learning. I guess I could pick up a book and read, or listen to some Podcasts if I’m too lazy. But it’s just not the same. I read any science-related news I can that’s listed in my BBC newsfeed, even though I don’t understand it most of the time. I just searched for free science lectures near Atlanta, and the first search result for “free education” turned up seminars on dating. What the fuck.

My name is Sterling. I have a BFA in Photography & Imaging. I feel trapped with a misformed identity and a stunted career path. I am on a mission to…to…I don’t know. To do something about it I guess.