Two thousand and eight has, to say the least, been a bizarre year for me. As I sit here watching the snow fall on a farm* nestled just outside the sprawl of Target stores and mini-malls in suburban New Jersey, I am not entirely sure how I feel about it.
*[My wife and I are pet-sitting for a friend, a welcome respite from life in our tiny apartment.]
Academically, 2008 has presented many trials. The mathematics courses I took, in particular, crushed my soul and made me miserable. Even the classes I did enjoy did little to mitigate the stress and frustration caused by the rest of my coursework, and the refusal of the university to let me major in evolutionary anthropology certainly did not help matters. At this point, the main reason that I am still in school is that I am too close to being finished to stop.
Indeed, my undergraduate experience has been a generally unpleasant and grueling experience. I have had better luck with science writing. My efforts here on ScienceBlogs have directly resulted in opportunities like being featured on the National Geographic News website, speaking at an Apple Store in New York, delivering a lecture about evolution on Evolution Sunday, one of my posts being featured in the 2nd edition of The Open Laboratory, and speak at the 2nd annual Science Blogging Conference.
My efforts have been well-received enough that I tried my hand at writing at other venues, as well, and this resulted in my first “real” article on spotted hyenas, my first peer-reviewed academic paper (in press), and a job writing for Dinosaur Tracking on the Smithsonian magazine website. I hope to do even more popular science writing in 2009.
Even though I realized some of my personal goals in 2008, I feel like I haven’t done much of anything at all. The chances of me becoming a scientist, or at least entering graduate school anytime soon, have become increasingly slim, nor can I presently make a living as a science writer. Just what 2009 will bring, I have no idea, but I have the feeling that important changes will be in store. I certainly hope that I will have some good news to report!
I know myself well enough to understand that one year from now, I’ll be sitting in front of a computer again, unsatisfied with whatever I may have accomplished in 2009. There are always more things I want to do than things I have actually done. In one respect, this is certainly bad, but it also keeps me working. I may continually be unsatisfied, but it is my hope that I can be happily so.