Yesterday…I realized that I may regret one thing in life and that’s not having gone into the field I dreamed of going into since I was 10.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a Chemist. No bullshit. I was smart too. Top of my class. Always on the Honor Roll and I would ask for gifts that only nerdy people asked for. Think – telescopes, microscopes and encyclopedias.
Who asks for that shit…in the hood no less?
As I got older, I started to wonder why people in my neighborhood behaved the way they did. It had to be some chemical thing and I read up on Pharmacological Research in the neighborhood library. At this point, I was 13.
In that moment, I decided that I wanted to become a Pharmacological Researcher but because I knew of the neighborhood I was being reared in and the people who were around me, I kept it to myself. I kept it to myself until the day before I left for college. And I said, offhandedly might I add, that I was going to double major in Chemistry and Psychology and then go on to a Tier I research university to finish off my studies. Even at 18, I knew…it was what I wanted to do.
And for a while, I was successful.
For those of you that don’t know, I attended a PWI, or a Predominantly White Institution and that was the most shocking wake up call ever. I got to my undergraduate institution and realized I was nowhere near prepared. I was smart, true. I had taken the tough classes, true. But I still wasn’t ready. So I worked hard and for the first year, it was all good. I did well in not only my Math & (Hard) Sciences courses but also in my Psychology courses. And I was overjoyed. Then Year 2 happened. Along with year 2 came the realization that I would have to be used to being the ONLY Black face in my course section taking the hard track (I majored in Graduate Preparation studies, so think AP of college).
But what also happened, and this is something that I wasn’t prepared for, was that I had to be ready to defend every excellent mark I made. Because there was no way that I could score that high on tests when my peers didn’t. And I got tired. I dealt with racism and sexism and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. My friends didn’t understand…they were in “simpler” majors. My professors told me that it came with the territory. And my family questioned why I wanted to “do that shit” anyway.
So I dropped Chemistry as a major and I shrunk my dream to something that made sense to everyone. I would just major in Psychology. Well, today on Twitter, I was recounting the excitement I felt when I thought of Chemistry and I thought of Pharmacology and I’ve been wondering ever since if this is what regret feels like?
Earlier, I sorta felt like, if I could do anything, I’d go back to school and pick up chemistry again. But I don’t know what I would do with it because I’m starting to feel really drawn to working with young people. I want to be in spaces where I can affirm them and their impossible dreams. But I want to be a Chemist.
It just feels like…well, I’m not sure what it feels like. Maybe I just want to do something so I don’t feel so helpless?