My friends and I were at dinner that night, and the topic of astrology came up. The conversation took an unexpected turn when my friend said that she thought astrology was cooler than astronomy. I thought it was a ridiculous statement, but she insisted that astronomy just isn't cool - how could it be, when astrology can "predict the future" and tell you how celestial objects "influence" your life? Perhaps it was all meant as a joke, but I was too upset to consider that. It never feels good to have others put down what you want to do for the rest of your life. Furthermore, this opinion didn't come from some random person; it came from a friend. It's easy to brush aside the opinion of random people, but when it comes from people you care about, it's harder. At that moment, I wished that I could argue better, to be able to persuade her, to be able to defend - to be more like a lawyer.
This blog is mainly about being an undergraduate scientist. I share my research experiences and scientific findings that intrigue me. But sometimes, I want to shift the focus back on being the "undergrad." When it comes to having your loved ones question your decisions, I can't help but think about the situation of those who are undecided on a major. Maybe when they think they've found one, their parents are skeptical or not completely supportive. That could hurt. The school has even hosted events regarding the question, "What are you going to do with that major?" Sometimes I face looks that seem to say, "Really? Going into research is what you want to do in the future?"
Sophomore year is the year many are required to declare a major. While talking to freshmen in the astronomy undergrad lounge on Friday, I thought back to my freshman seminar. Out of about twenty kids that were in the class, only three, including me, have continued on with astronomy. Before the semester was over, one student decided that astronomy was more of a hobby. I, myself, wavered because of the geosciences course I took in the spring.
I get confused and weary from time to time. The more advanced the classes, the more involved I become with research, the more I hear about amazing accomplishments by other scientists, and I'd question my potential.
But if you recall this post, I liken myself to a planetesimal. There is still plenty of accumulation and building I need to do. For those unsure of their decision: some paths just don't allow proto-planets to grow as much as they should. One thing is certain for me: wherever my path takes me, it won't be down the one of astrology or the noble art of Divination (Sorry, Professor Trelawney).