Where I Don’t Belong

Here is my first post as a Ms. JD Writer in Residence!  If you’d like to check out the original, follow this link.  

Happy 2015, everyone!

-A.

Some people know right out of the gate what they want to do with their lives. It’s impressive. I wish I was one of those people. But I am not. I’ve spent my life figuring out where I don’t belong, to be completely honest. It’s been a long and winding road, but it has led me to exactly where I need to be.

Where does this story begin? For me, it’s all the way back in middle school. I wanted to be a journalist. I distinctly remember sitting at the public library computer, writing down information about Columbia’s journalism program. Yes, I was researching colleges in middle school—that’s the kind of person I’ve always been. If I’m not two steps ahead, I’m not content.

Once I got to high school, I realized quickly that journalism may not be my calling. Interviewing people—and, at times, harassing them for information—just wasn’t my thing. But I loved the writing and editing, and I loved seeing my name in the byline. This is probably how I became a blogger, eventually. High school led me in a very different direction. Math and science came easy for me, and I found it very interesting that the more I learned, the less mysteries there were in the world. Chemistry was especially fascinating to me. Elements and compounds and the mixing of things to form other things—I love that stuff. High school was also where I discovered forensic science, which has paved the way for most of the other decisions I’ve made in my life.

Seriously, though...
Seriously, though…

Here’s the thing about forensic science, in my experience. Ever since CSI, NCIS, and other crime shows started glamourizing the study of forensic science, it’s been immensely popular as a Master’s Degree program. That makes the application process extremely competitive, and makes grades and GPA matter more than just about anything. I was a good student, but I had a hard time prioritizing what was most important. My grades didn’t always reflect my understanding, and I often put dating and love and those sorts of silly things ahead of my studies. It was college! Who didn’t do that from time to time?

By the time I was ready to start applying to these programs, I knew my GPA wouldn’t cut it. It made me sad for a while, but then I thought—hey, maybe there’s another way. So I started applying to pharmacology PhD programs, thinking that I could eventually end up in forensic toxicology, which is where I thought I wanted to be. I minored in English in college, so my personal statements made up for what my grades were lacking, and I was accepted to three PhD programs. I chose the one in the part of the country I liked the best, and I moved even further away from home.

But. Gosh, isn’t there always a but? The research, the animal experimentation—it wasn’t for me. I lasted one single semester before I packed up my things and headed back home. At this point, I was lost. Forensic science—and everything else that I tried—those were what I truly thought I wanted to do for my whole life. Now what?

I looked into social psychology for a while, but that was just a convoluted way of using science and research to figure out why I was lonely, so that didn’t last for very long. I met my now-fiancé, and we eventually had a sit-down where he told me that he just wants me to be happy. What makes me happy?

“Writing,” I told him. Because I’ve always been happiest when I’m writing.

“Okay. Is that a career that you could actually have? Would it bring in a steady paycheck?”

“Technical writing would.”

“Would that make you happy?”

“It would combine the sciences with the reading and writing I’ve always loved.”

“Then maybe you should do that.”

Now, I am one semester away from earning a Master’s Degree in Technical and Scientific Communication. I have a new job, one that is in my new field, and I’m feeling more fulfilled than I ever have before. But there’s still something missing. There’s always something missing, something that my soul is yearning for that I haven’t satisfied it with yet.

Looking back on forensic science, I think about what it was about that field that drew me in. It was a way to use my love and affinity for science and math, but that wasn’t the whole thing. It was the aspect of stopping crime. It was a way of definitively proving that people committed heinous acts. The part about the forensic science Master’s Degrees that always intrigued me was the training in expert testimony—the courtroom stuff. The part that would convince juries to put people away.

It was the legal part of it, essentially. I wanted to participate in the legal part of criminal justice.

I considered law school one other time in my life. It was after I moved home from my foray into pharmacology, when I was trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life. I contacted a friend of mine who owned a small law practice in a small town and asked him about law school. He sent me a case and said, “Read this. You’ll have to read over 1,000 of these in law school, so if you hate this one, don’t bother.” Then he told me that, with my chemistry background, I would be a good fit for patent law.

At the time, I was disappointed. Patent law? Boring! So I moved on, settled on social psychology, you know the rest. But now? I found that email again and read that case, and I loved it. And intellectual property law is exactly what interests me the most. I’m writing my capstone paper for my Master’s Degree about how intellectual property law is important to understand in the realm of copyediting. It’s funny how everything turns out.

I am not a lot of things. I am not a journalist, or a chemist, or a forensic scientist, or a pharmacologist, or a social psychologist. Right now, I’m a technical writer. But where do I belong? My life has been dynamic in a way that only makes sense to me sometimes, but I truly believe I’ve been led to the law my whole life. I finally acknowledged that fact, that truth. And now—now it’s just about getting there.

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