Teaching and research, research and teaching. A cup of coffee, a stale-ish sesame bagel. I chuckle mid-way through my transcriptions, get an email about another student, text my best friend and boyfriend on the side. I dip back into the Psychology project.
I’m happy to be circling back to my deepest initial passion, Psychology, and seeking to make a career out of it. The past few years were spent dabbling in a variety of interests, from photojournalism to freelance writing and illustration. I worked as a freelance photographer, was at the newspaper, did article illustrations, wrote articles. And I enjoyed it all, and I’m grateful to have been able to explore those creative avenues.
But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s art that I want to chase as a career–it’s Psychology. Sometimes I burn out from photo, or art, or writing, or music, but I never tire of Psychology. Ever since I can remember, it’s been Psychology I’ve run towards, Psychology I’ve held onto, Psychology I’ve spat obnoxiously at anyone who would listen. And, if we’re also being frank, of all these interests, Psychology is perhaps the most viable economically. To succeed in the others requires a great deal of luck to not struggle financially…the starving artist is a trope, but….ah. I’ll always have creative outlets at hand, but won’t rely on them as a career.
Alas, my only regret is not doggedly pursuing this earlier. My first class in college was a Psychology seminar; my last class in college was a Developmental Psychology course. Neither was required–I just gravitated towards the subject. That first semester, I emailed my favorite Psychology writers, chose a major because of its roots in Psychology. Throughout my last year, I participated in research labs regularly, contemplating the lab structure and hypotheses. I read social science articles in my free time, and chatted my best friend’s ear off about said studies.
At the same time, though, I’m not mired in regret. I see that the majority of Psychology undergraduate majors go into business. They tire of a school that burned them out, swerve the whiplash of an Ivy League, do management consulting or marketing or banking. The students don’t often go on to get Ph.D’s or Master’s, maybe in part due to the undergraduate culture. But without a higher degree, it’s difficult, if not nearly impossible, to practice Psychology.
That being said, it was not all for naught. And if anything, I’m glad that I eventually figured it out, even if it took me a bit of time. It was just in the nick of time, though, that I faced myself (corny, I know) and saw what I’d always seen, and that was a tiny, constant burning fire for the field.
The people closest to me all collectively yelled “DUH” when I had my revelation in front of Cosi. But the people in my outer social circle, friends but not best friends, were surprised to hear my detour. I thought you wanted to write or draw. But it makes sense–publicly, I’m open about creative pursuits, because they’re easy to share. It’s like a person’s mask, or a product’s package, or a home’s outside decor. But ah, the interior is always a little different, more personal, and that is what the social sciences are to me: near and dear, more personal than not, a constant quiet passion.