“…just because you’re “documenting” doesn’t mean you’re not creating content. It’s just a version of creating that is predicated more on practicality instead of having to think of stories or fantasy — something that’s very hard for most people (including myself).
Think about it: you can ponder about the strategy behind every post and fabricate yourself into this “influential person”… or you can just be yourself.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk
It’s time for me to put my post-Vanuatu travel diary on hold for a sec, I’ll come back to it – don’t worry – but there are heavier words resting on the creative parts of my brain that wont let anything else flow out until I come clean about this.
I am a self-professed marine biologist. Since I was 12, since I first experienced a dolphin up-close (albeit at SeaWorld – don’t worry, I’ve since learned my lesson) I knew that if I wanted to do anything, it was marine biology. I asked the presenter at the dolphin show that day what she did to be able to work with such magnificent mammals, and she mentioned marine biology and from that day I was hooked. I didn’t want to be no office girl, retail worker, checkout chick or corporate high flyer. I wanted this. And of course, other teenage dreams came and went (including a short-lived acting career) but I found myself always coming back to marine biology. And so at the age of 20, when my life cycled back around yet again to marine biology, and I had the choice between a 3-year degree at a prestigious acting school in Sydney or a 3 year degree in science/marine biology, I forfeited my $1,000 deposit I had paid to reserve my spot at the acting school, and instead accepted my offer to study at the University of Technology in my long-awaited degree.
I am a self-professed marine biologist because I feel like I deserve it. With no science backing to my name (due to more creative electives being my choice in high school), I started at ground zero, throwing myself in the deep end with university level chemistry, anatomy, physics, data analysis. I had to learn it all in the first 3 months of my university career, from nothing. I cried more frustrated tears during that time, I felt more dumb than I had ever felt in that time, I self-doubted more in that time than I had ever done in my life. Maybe once or twice I entertained the idea of quitting the degree altogether but I knew in my heart of hearts the threat wasn’t serious. I was in this, for the good and bad. My grades were good, but not amazing – yet every time I saw a ‘pass’ next to a subject following the end of semester exams, I was euphoric. It was a sign that I was where I belonged and was meant to be. I moved to Sydney for a year of my degree to be able to cope with the 30-hour a week class time and extra workload on top of that. My peers were getting distinctions and high distinctions and yet I didn’t care as I was never in competition with them – only myself. And I was right where I wanted to be.
I am a self-professed marine biologist but I feel like I am lying. Sometimes. My graduation day came and went way too quickly. In fact, holy crap, it has almost been two years to the month that I put on my cap and gown and waited for my little bit of paper for hours on end in the hot grand hall of my university with 500 of my peers. I bought the graduation mug, I took the photos, I went out to celebratory dinner afterwards with my family. Some of my peers were continuing their studies with Honors, Masters degrees or pHDs, yet I always knew this wasn’t for me – the research was stressful, data analysis and programming was never, and will never be my forte, and I wanted to be out there in the world making a difference, doing speeches, inspiring, educating people and making a difference. I wanted to be working directly with the animals I loved instead of cooped up in a lab for 10+ years doing research on a topic I don’t really believe in or care about, just to say I am qualified.
I am a self-professed marine biologist, but I’m not really. I feel like I’m putting on a bit of a facade when I say it. To talk myself up in a sense. I dont work full time as a marine biologist. In fact, I dont even work casually as a marine biologist.
In the two years following my degree I worked assist-managing a retail store, travelled a little bit, and now I’m in-between. I will never forget having to lie through my teeth to the area manager of the retail chain I was applying to assist-manage, when she asked why I didn’t want to pursue my degree. I looked her in the eye and told her it didn’t interest me anymore. I’m pretty sure I was holding back tears.
Truth is, no one tells you what to do after university. There is no, next step. I feel like I put in the work, my dream was big enough, I was willing to work hard and travel an ungodly amount of time to work so I could potentially make it in the career I wanted so badly, but -.
I like to call myself a marine biologist because I know I deserve it and am worth it and I can do it and I’d be the best bloody marine biologist that you ever met, because my passion is what drives me.
Yet in the past few years I’ve learned that its okay if you come up against a couple of brick walls along the way.
In the past few months I’ve learned to realise that its okay to pursue something different if its what your soul is telling you.
And in the past few days I’ve learned that its okay to be upfront and honest with people about your struggles.
Its all okay. Because chances are, that most of the people around you are going through a parallel experience. Its just that everyone likes to build up personas surrounding themselves that are a far cry from the real – its what they want. Its what they hoped had happened. I am doing the same. Its human nature.
So – here it is. for the sake of honesty, here it all is laid out on the table.
1) I still have the dream of being a marine biologist and I always will. I will never give up on this dream. However , I’m allowing myself to be released from the title and the pressure that it brings, for now. I’m giving myself permission to be real, to have struggles, and to not be picture perfect to the outside world. I’m relieving myself of the guilt that I’ve harboured for two years for not “having it all together” straight out of university (or even 2 years after).
2) I want to be an activist and role model for oceanic conservation, and especially marine mammals, cetaceans, and sharks. And so I’m going to document that journey.
3) I’ve forgotten how much I used to enjoy writing as a child, and so I’m going to pursue this – starting with this blog.
4) I always have, always will, and will never stop, love travelling. I’m a hardcore wanderlust-er and so I’m going to find ways to explore more. And also document my exploration via my writing and videos.
5) Its okay to be between jobs, its okay to have down days, and all in all the best thing you can do is be honest.
And – finally – I’m going to be okay. I’m not perfect. I’m not where I hoped I would be. As well as scaring the s*** out of me, this prospect also excites the s*** out of me too.
I hope you stay with me, follow me, see where this all takes me – and I really hope that its helped you too.
If it has, I’d love to hear about something you want to be upfront and honest about – even if it means tearing down any preconceived notions you had built up of yourself as a front to the world. I’d love to hear your story too.