What do you
want to do in life? Everyone has been asked this question at some point or
another. When I am asked this question, I think of particle physics.
One of the goals of particle physics is to coalesce the four fundamental forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear and strong nuclear) into one cohesive model that will explain the universe – a Grand Unified Theory. That is why there is a lab 26 miles wide in Switzerland dedicated to colliding particles at near light speed. That is why particle physics laboratories receive million dollar grants even though the funding may not even lead to tangible results. And that is one of the reasons why the television show, "The Big Bang Theory" is so darn funny. Some might argue that the search for such a model is meaningless. "What's the point of finding a 'Grand Unified Theory'? Life will go on the same with or without it!”
are right. However, the goal of a particle physicist is, if not a necessary
one, at least a noble one. Unifying so many different, seemingly incompatible
concepts to find harmony among the apparent chaos that is our universe is a
pretty daunting task after all. Now, I am no particle physicist, but I can
sympathize with their plight.
When I am
asked “What do you want to do in life?” my honest answer is “I do not know
yet.” I am the universe, and so asking me to answer that question is like
asking a particle physicist to find a Grand Unified Theory on the spot. I need
a Swiss lab and a million dollar research grant first.
I used to
think my passions were incompatible and separate, much like the way most people
view the four fundamental forces. Gravity is different from electricity, and
magnetism is different from the forces that hold together atoms, molecules, and
cells, right? Well, for me, all of my passions are different. Like the four
fundamental forces, I experience something unique from each activity, something
necessary for defining who I am. For example, improvisational comedy has made
me spontaneous and adaptive in all aspects of my life. Debate is the mental
adrenaline shot that puts my mind into overdrive for intense forty-five minute
rounds. Student government motivates me to use my influence for the greater
good by helping every student that I can. Immunology research gives me a
humbling glimpse of the beauty and unfathomable complexity that is the human
body. I would not trade the experiences I get from these activities for the
world, so choosing which passion I want to pursue in life is difficult. I have,
nonetheless, given the question a lot of thought.
can unite two disciplines into one. Hey, physicists did it with the
electro-magnetic force! So, perhaps I will be the first President with a PhD in
biology. Or maybe I will be a lawyer by day, an actor by night. A
mathematician, perchance, who writes mystery novels that incorporates solid
foundations in calculus, immunology, politics and…improv? Who knows… I sure do not - at least
not yet. However, I do know that I do not want to take an incompatible and
discordant view of my future. I will not sacrifice one passion because I cannot
make it fit in my comprehensive model. Scientists did not disregard gravity
from the model because it is so much weaker in comparison to the other three forces,
so why should I abandon any one of my interests?
So, when people ask me what I want to do in life, I now tell them that I have my foot in a lot of different doors, but in reality, I am just trying to find my Grand Unified Theory.
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