Surviving vs. Thriving

I’m ashamed to look and see how long it has been since I last wrote a post on here. I do have quite a few posts to write about so I will probably spread them out over the week. For my first post…

Recently, my dad’s friend from Chicago (let’s call him Reader) came to visit with his daughter who is two years younger than me. He is a very intellectual guy who has loved to learn since he was a child back in India. He’d pick up any and every book just to expand his knowledge – and boy, did he really expand my mind when he came and stayed for a few days.

One night we were all chilling by the kitchen counter and he gave me a speech about how I should choose to go into my future and nothing has ever struck me as much as what he said that night.

As many people say or have heard from others, you should follow your interests and do what you enjoy. That was the message Reader gave me essentially but worded this way:

You need to find something you’re obsessed with. Something that interests you so much, and something you are so passionate about, that you will wake up in the mornings and chances are that THAT is what you will think about. It should be that way. Anyone can do any job in the future, humans are capable of adapting to their environments.

But if you choose something you obsess over, you will excel no matter where you go. You will be promoted sooner than later, you will get a higher salary raise if that’s what you care about, and people from other fields will come to consult you because you are one of the best in your field. But most importantly, you will have fun.

You can be really talented in one field, but if you don’t obsess over it or have fun with it, then in the end you will be surviving, like everyone else, when really you should be thriving and making a difference in the world – regardless of the field you are passionate about.

“Don’t just survive. That’s what we immigrant parents all over the world have done and are doing right now for you kids. All these immigrant parents have left the comfort of their home countries and are merely surviving right now. Don’t be like us, that’s not why we brought you here. Be better than us, make a difference.”

His speech hit me hard. I’ve always heard people say follow your interests, but it what how Reader put it that made me rethink my entire future. I had plans to go through the English field and become an editor of some sorts, because I enjoy going through the editing process and also that is one of my skills. But.. I don’t obsess over it. I don’t wake up in the mornings wondering what literature I’m going to read next (as much as I’m trying to read more nowadays) nor do I pick up and read any of the books on writing/grammar that I have received as gifts from family.

The one thing I obsess over is paleontology. I love it with all my heart and have since I was a little kid. Paleontology is the subject where I willingly go and WANT to buy books on and read on the train. Every time I go to a bookstore, I always search for a paleontology section. Currently I am reading a book on the Tyrannosaur family that I found at a thrift book store and I am learning so much.

Reader’s speech didn’t just affect me though, it seems like my mom was also enlightened by it. To my surprise, my mom, who had once strongly suggested neurology as a career path, is now encouraging me to follow paleontology. First, I should finish my English degree and get a masters, but afterward – go get that paleontology degree and maybe become a professor.

To be honest, I have yet to look at schools that have good paleontology courses and am still feeling slightly lost despite knowing what I want to do. But I have a good feeling about it.

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