Last week I sent out an email about feeling drawn toward a passion that “makes no sense.” The email spawned a great discussion on Facebook. So many of you had the experience of becoming interested in fields that were radically different from anything you’ve done before. When this happens, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable, maybe even run from your new passion for a while.
The fear of being a beginner and stepping out of my comfort zone has been a big part of my hesitance, but I think what has held me back from pursuing my new-ish interest in science is the absence of an end goal. In other words, it doesn’t feel like there’s an obvious practical application for what I want to learn. I don’t necessarily want to become a practitioner or researcher, I’m simply thirsty for knowledge. That’s it.
Learning alone seems to be my goal, not that it won’t evolve into something tangible, it very well may. But I can’t know that now, and anyway, it doesn’t matter. Even if the knowledge I acquire never gets applied in any way, I’m still developing my mind, and that has inherent value.
When I was in college, even a slight interest in an area was enough for me to justify taking a course (hell, it was enough to justify me going to law school!), but now that I’m out of school it feels harder to justify.
But why? Is it just the cost of education? Or my age? The feeling that I should have it “figured out,” at this stage of my life, and that I’m an adult now with “adult responsibilities”?
It sounds so silly, especially since I am someone who’s always believed in education for education’s sake. Still, the absence of an end point to my goal has made its pursuit a lot scarier.
So here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to stop needing this path to make sense, to mesh with my experiences, long-held identities, or plans I had for my life. That big hovering question mark? It’s no longer a source of anxiety or a thing that I need to figure out. Now it represents adventure.
If anything is my “goal” in this new field, it is open-ended-ness. I don’t know where it’s going to lead me and I don’t care. But now I’m excited.
Have you ever felt yourself being pulled toward a field that didn’t have an obvious practical application, at least not one you were interested in? How did you approach it?