As I think back on my younger years, I don’t remember ever thinking that I wanted to be a geologist, or scientist of any kind for that matter. I dreamt about many of the careers most young girls did in those days including being an ice skater, runway model, teacher, etc. but never really considered myself smart enough to take on anything with major mathematics. In fact, in third grade, I was stuck in what I felt was the “dummy class” because my English was supposedly behind and so I wasn’t allowed to actually improve my English. Instead, I was granted the “opportunity” to watch “The Electric Company” which was way below my grade level and fostered my so-called “inadequacy” in English and math. Back in those days, only the elite could actually study the composition-type writing. So, needless to say, I fell behind in third grade and felt like a failure, despite being allowed to move into fourth (thank you, Mom!). And I’ll never forget her name – Mrs. Kennedy. Finally, a teacher who made me feel adequate and worked with me to get up to speed. Before I knew it, I was excelling and by the time I entered junior high school, I was part of the “enriched” English classes. I was also handling algebra fine, but it didn’t come easy to me. Once again, though, I went backwards with a move to Florida where I wasn’t pushed to stay in advanced classes and grew lazy, taking only intermediate-type classes to get by. Compounded with shyness, I didn’t break out of my shell and embrace the world. Something always seemed to haunt me back to the days during third grade. As if a seed was implanted to constantly remind me that I was mediocre, at best. I wish I had concentrated more on my fourth grade experiences with Mrs. Kennedy, instead of the ignorant teacher of the year before. So, you might be asking, how in the world with all of this negativity, did I end up as a geologist who excels in math and science? Was I born with some innate natural ability that didn’t show up until later?
Well, thinking back, I wonder if that’s not the case. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I collected rocks and kept them in my room. I remember mostly pink quartz, other polished rocks and a piece of marble shaped like my childhood irish setter (or so, I thought), some of which I still have today. I liked to explore creek beds, treetops, and fields of daisies. Outside was my inside, even spending afternoons reading under the protective leaves of my long time friend on long, rainy days. And even today, as I sit in my back room, writing this post, I’m next to another long, time friend outside of my window. I’ve watched this oak tree grow for the past 15 years. My connection with nature, I cannot explain.
All I know is this: Pay attention to what draws you, your gut feelings and where you feel comfortable. Go after what makes you real and ignore the negativity. And most of all, listen to the voice of the Mrs. Kennedy(s) in your life. I finally did.