This quarter’s Scientiae, hosted by Alyssa at Apple Pie and the Universe, is about our ultimate career goal, and frankly, I’ve struggled on this one. I’m passionate about several aspects of my career, but individually, none of them seem appropriate as an ultimate goal. Do research that saves lives? Maybe, although I don’t know if that’s a realistic goal. Get tenure? Definitely a goal, but that just feels a little cheap for an ultimate goal. Mentor students? Of course, but again, this feels a little too… small. Forge a path for more women to pursue science? Okay, getting bigger, but maybe a little bit too big, possibly setting myself up for doing the right job for all the wrong reasons.
A lot has happened this past year. I had a baby (well, that was a little more than a year ago now, but just go with it), endured postpartum depression, secured a tenure track faculty position across the country, and lost a good friend and colleague to an untimely death. It’s been a year filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and I haven’t had the time or space to re-find my footing. In the midst of all this change, which is still consuming my life, I’m not sure I really know what my ultimate career goal is. But I do know one thing – I can no longer think about my ultimate career goal without considering the fabric of my entire life.
As I was preparing to write this, my thoughts kept drifting to my friend who passed away this past year. He was a brilliant scientist, a compassionate friend, an avid outdoorsman, and a wonderful father and husband. He pursued every aspect of his life, including the knowledge of his declining health, with passion, honesty, and the curiosity of a child. Throughout our friendship, he frustrated, challenged, even angered me, but he also made me and all of his friends laugh when we needed it most. He expected the best of himself, and pushed those around him to do the same. I will never forget him or the impact he had on mine and the lives of so many others.
Perhaps this is setting the bar too high, but living this kind of life is my ultimate goal. I want to make my mark on this world, set an example, and be fondly remembered when my final hand has been played. I have no idea what this ultimate goal will look like, but I know how to get there. I was taught by a good friend to live every moment as if it was my last, to love passionately and be myself, to play hard, work hard, and be a steadfast friend, to work with integrity and appreciate every aspect of my life. THIS is my ultimate goal – to always find joy in my career, my friends, my family, my life. Right now, this is the best I’ve got. Right now, everything else is just details.