I'm a postdoctoral research fellow working in the scientific field of Bioinformatics. I don't hate what I do. If I did, I wouldnt be doing it. Indeed there are a lot of elements I enjoy. However, I know that, in reality, I'm not a very good scientist. I'm not stupid or anything and I've obviously done 'OK' so far (otherwise I wouldnt be working for one of the most renowned scientists in the world in my field at a very good UK university) but I know its not where my real talent lies.
One of my work colleagues, having been though the whole undergraduate, PhD and postdoctoral researcher route has finally decided that academia is not for him and he is going to medicine school this coming autumn. We have just had a chat over coffee about why he decided to do that and he quizzed me over what I actually want to do.
As I explained to my colleague, I kinda just 'fell into' science. As a child I shone in two subjects ... English and Science. I was a B student for just about everything else other than foreign languages which I hated and did terribly at (my school report usually said something like 'Alison would be very good at French/Spanish etc if only she showed an interest/worked at it etc'). For reasons which I'm not going to go into now I left school at 14, sat on my bum for two years and then (when I was old enough) went on various government training schemes in retail and so on. I was then given some money at age 18 which I used to get back to college, do my school exams (GCSEs) and got on a two year pre-university level course for computing at my local techical college (the dot com boom was in full flow at the time so I thought it was a sensible career path to take). I decided I hated the course after a week, wanted to change to another and the only one with any places left was in science. And that was that. Went on to do undergraduate studies in science etc etc.
I believe my real talents lie very much elsewhere. In fact I know my natural talent is for music. This was picked up on in primary school and my parents were urged to buy me a musical instrument. It didnt happen because my father considered it to be a waste of money. I know its too late for me to realise any dreams of ever being able to play music professionally and, as a result, I've never really learned to play an instrument at all. I have a classical guitar at home that is gathering dust. I have no interest in playing it because I'll never be as good as I should have been. Just one of those things I guess. It happens
I do have an passionate interest in doing something else very creative that I'm convinced I'd be good at but its in a field thats almost impossible to break into and every time I've mentioned it to people I'm told to be 'practical' and 'keep it as a hobby' while concentrating on my academic career. This had meant I havent really persued this either. I dont want it as a 'hobby', I want it as a career and if I dont do it as a career then I dont want to do it at all.
I'm sure that sounds a bit mad .. but I always figure that if you are going to do something, you may as well do it right.
The industry I'm thinking of entering of is extremely tough. I dont need any qualifications, just the talent. Being 'practical' I could try to progress in academia (which isnt exactly easy in itself, but at least i'm likely to have some success). But what I really want to do is this 'pie in the sky' stuff, which obviously other people have done but most people tell me its an impossible dream.
What do you guys think?