This post may be totally off-topic, but I just needed to put it out there because perhaps others struggle with the same issue. So I’ve been having a bit of a quarter-life crisis (to quote John Mayer) on and off for the past year. And in helping my sister make some decisions about whether she should double-major, I seem to have thrown myself back into indecision about my own future.
You see, I’ve always had a hard time narrowing down my passions into a career path. How do you know what you are “supposed” to do? My friends and family are probably tired of me wondering that over the past ten years or so (if you’re reading, sorry to bombard you with it again). Basically it comes down to this: I’m passionate about many things…none of which really seem to interrelate.
For one thing, I’m immensely passionate about design: one of the reasons why I started this blog and have gotten involved with our local AIGA chapter. I love book design and would love to one day work at a publishing company. Screen-printing and letterpress open so many options not available in digital technologies, and I can’t wait to explore all of the ideas bouncing around my head. Likewise, I’ve noticed I have a totally different aesthetic in my approach to web-design, and want to learn more, more, more.
Similarly, I’m absolutely and totally in love with animation—have been since I was about 5. I could bore you with long rants about how Sleeping Beauty is one of the most perfect films of all time. Listening to the Animation Podcast episodes and reading blogs like Animation Treasures or Colorful Animation Expressions are enough to have me ready to go back to school. But I really am in love with traditional 2D animation (and maybe claymation), so it’s hard to find outlets for that in the current industry. (Unless James Baxter is hiring right now…I would kill to meet him and pick his brain over a cup of coffee.)
On a totally unrelated note, I’m a (not-so-) secretly reformed science nerd. Sitting at our brother’s Regional Science Olympiad tournament, my sister and I were discussing what was wrong with the two of us for not going into something that we both obviously loved to do. Chemistry/geology…I can’t get enough of both of them—even now. And after coaching my brother for the past several months of tournament season, I’m ready to go spelunking. I think I almost died of happiness just visiting the Rock/Mineral section of the Natural History Museum in D.C. last month. The discovery that there are actually people who do forensic qualitative analysis to determine the make-up of pigments used in illuminated manuscripts was almost enough to drive me back to a college admissions office. (Btw, art history is another of my favorite subjects…)
Yet another interest of mine is linguistics: specifically European languages. If you’ve read my blog for very long, you’ll know I’m a German-phile. After taking German since middle-school, I found that I missed it too much in college and had to add it as a minor. If I had known that the field of linguistic anthropology existed, I probably would have switched my major. Luckily, an internship over seas with a German design firm allowed me to combine the 2 passions…and I never fail to get energized by the reunions we’ve had every year since. Particularly because all of us are from such diverse educational backgrounds. Each year, I come back wanting to educate others about German-American relations. Currently, I’m trying (slowly!) to teach myself Czech so I can better articulate my appreciation for the kolač. 😉
Mind you, this is all very much an internal conflict, so no need to worry about me making drastic life changes. (And short of designing a German book based on an animated film about the rock cycle, I doubt I’ll ever be able to use all my passions at once.) But I often ponder just how things might be different if I had gone to college for a very different path… But what all of this has taught me is that it’s perfectly okay—if not necessary—to have interests outside of your line of work. They give you inspiration, motivation, and a unique perspective to approach it with. Milton Glaser addressed my classmates and I during a college trip to NYC. The biggest thing I took away from that talk was him saying how important it was to have interests outside of design: how it will fuel your creativity. He then followed that up with the advice to “always be astonished by what you see around you.” I think about that quote a lot: you don’t have to eat, breath, and sleep one thing for the rest of your life. There is so much wonder in the world and so much to be passionate about.