Potential has a shelf life.

I can jump off a cliff.

It’s true. I am physically capable of doing so. I can also eat a bumblebee. Not sure why I’d want to, but I can do it!

Moral of that story: we can all do things that we shouldn’t necessarily do.

For example, I’m majoring in both Chemistry and English. Why? Because I can somehow process the scientific method and write out lab reports about the stuff that makes up life and, at the same time, I can write a pretty sestina about the leaves that fall in autumn (a type of poem for those of you who don’t know). My brain is wired the same way as everyone else but we all function in different ways and are productive at different levels of efficiency.

The amount and level of classes that I have to take every semester is extremely taxing. What bothers me most though are my changing feelings about the types of classes I’m taking. I have an interest in Chemistry while I simply have a gift for English. Chemistry is the field that I have chosen for myself as a potential future career path, but English was given to me without my asking — but I’m not complaining! It’s nice to have that balance between interest and passion.

However, as I have started school, I have begun to realize something. Actually, it was less of a realization and more of a doubt wiggling it’s way through my thoughts and eating through the plans that I have drafted for my future. While I normally am confident in the path that I have chosen, my steps lately have been hesitant and my eyes have faltered from the goal upon which they were fixed.

I’m not sure I’m going to like my science classes anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love working in the lab and I am fascinated with the idea of learning about cell geometry and organic compounds. But while I was simply sitting in my Organic Chem class in order to get the grade, a smile crossed my face when I walked into my Literature Criticism class! If you think measuring the angles between bonds in Chemistry is bad, you should never try classifying works of writing. Both classes are considered quite difficult…but my reactions were totally different.

I’m not scared. To be honest, I think I could handle it if I was scared. I can banish fear and force myself to endure the hard classes.

I’m nervous. Anxiety undermines the foundation of my confidence and it’s harder to walk a path when your eyes are clouded with doubts. Just because we can do things, doesn’t mean we should do them. Just because it’s possible for me to double major, doesn’t mean that I should mentally drain myself to do so. At the same time, I would hate to waste potential and the opportunities that such an academic combo would bring.

There’s only so much time for me to think about this decision. Without an expiration date though, it’s hard to tell if I no longer have a strong enough interest in Chemistry to continue upon that path. I can’t tell if the door is still open for me.

I may not be spoiled goods quite yet, but I do have a potential shelf life.

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3 thoughts on “Potential has a shelf life.

  1. papa says:

    Not that my experience was the right one but I dropped organic chemistry at the beginning of my sophomore year. Sandy and I had just started dating seriously and we had long talks – I dropped chem and was a math major – Sandy dropped math and went into HPE – we were both happier!!

  2. Hey, Syd. It’s around 2:40 AM and I’m definitely too old to be up this late (early?) but I couldn’t get your blog from yesterday out of my head since I read it yesterday afternoon so I thought I’d write a brief comment (at least brief for me).

    First, you are not weird because you start with one major in mind and change to another. Like your Grandpa Mike, I started out to be a research chemist, changed to major in math, got a PhD in Applied Math (thinking that I would be teaching at a Christian college), and then God led me into the world of telecom system engineering 34 years ago (which has taken us to several foreign countries – NJ, NL, ON – where God wanted us to live and love and follow his plan to establish His Kingdom). Many of our friends have followed a similar developmental path – starting out in one area and then moving to others as God has lead them.

    Second, rather than think it’s strange to enjoy both Chemistry and Literature, I suggest you think of it as a blessing that comes from a Christian Liberal Arts education. After I shifted from Chemistry to Math, I still read more than most English majors and I filled my schedule with Philosophy courses. I have actually written a paper on how my Christian Liberal Arts education has been the most important factor in my being a successful Telecom executive throughout my career so I can get quite passionate on this front. However, it’s late (early?) so I’ll move on.

    Third, you make me frown when you refer to yourself as “potentially spoiled goods”. Discovering your gifts, skills, abilities, and (most importantly) your passions (or, as the Bible refers to them, the desires of your heart) is a unique process that we all go through and there is not usually a shortcut or deadline for that process. When we are growing up, we often shape our images of “what we want to be when we grow up” in terms of what and who we know. As we grow and develop a larger context that God often uses to sift through our gifts, skills, abilities,and passions to get to who we uniquely are. One analogy would be that of a jeweler cutting away the rock to expose the diamond hidden inside but I think a story I heard says it better. As the story goes, a little girl asked a sculptor how he took a block of stone and carved it into a bear. He fold her it was simple – he just cut away everything that didn’t look like the bear he had in mind. I suspect that God may be working in your life to shape the Sydney He has had in mind from all eternity. You can over-analyze what He is up to (as I tend to do) but I have found it’s better to seek His heart and relax in His love and trust Him to guide me to what’s best for me (easier said than done, for sure, and I’m still working my way through that in my current job transition but still true).

    Finally (for now), in a previous blog you went through your INTJ-ness as part of musing about why it is tough to make friends. I’m a (Borderline E/I)NTJ so I know exactly what you are referring to when you feel a bit out of step with the other 98% of the world. On the other hand, I think you will find that many of the world’s movers and shakers are first-born NTJ’s so it’s not a bad thing to be (although it can definitely get lonely sometimes). God has blessed me with a loving wife (who happens to be an ISFJ), a great extended family, many acquaintances, and a few great friends. I think you will find that God brings the right people into our lives at the right times to help form and support us in becoming the person He wants us to be.

    Sorry for the long-winded “brief” comment – happy to interact more on this if you want to – definitely looking forward to seeing what Sydney emerges from God’s loving hands – thankful that you are willing to let us all share in the process through this blog.

    Love you lots, Syd!

    Uncle Kevin

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