Thanks for the A2A!
When I was 7 years old, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I figured it had something to do with music, because I spent an inordinate amount of time practicing singing and playing piano, and everyone who heard me sing would stop what they were doing to listen.
When I was 8 years old, two things happened: I got my first pet of my very own, and I got my first computer. I still continued with the voice and piano practice – but now my nights were spent engrossed with my two new best friends. For hours on end, I taught myself to program, and my little furry companion was there with me.
And then she died. It was a fairly new disease named Feline Leukemia.
I now had purpose in my life – I would become a veterinarian. I knew that they would likely find a vaccine or cure by the time I was an adult (I was not the average child) but I wanted to be like the veterinarian who comforted me, and took the time to really explain to me why it was better for my friend to go away than to stay and suffer. She was so kind, didn’t treat me like a child, and let me say a proper goodbye. I knew I wanted to do that for someone one day.
And then, one day in January, 1986, I went to school like normal – but this wasn’t a normal day. We were going to get to see the first teacher launch into space. It was a huge deal! We had televisions in each room, and were were all very excited.
And then… and then…
Something snapped inside of me. From that moment on, almost every conversation with me had something to do with NASA, or rockets, or space. Little kids say they want to be an astronaut – I meant it. I studied everything I could find about Operation Paperclip, all of the Mercury, Saturn, Apollo missions, all the test pilots, everything I could find about the then-Cold War shielded USSR agency; nothing satiated my need for knowledge.
I collected information about all the astronauts like other people collected baseball stats.
I used every ounce of persuasion I had to get my parents to take me to my favorite place within realistic driving distance (3 hours), the National Air and Space museum in Washington DC, just so I could stare at the capsules.
I had read and re-read the Right Stuff so many times, that when I met Chuck Yeager the first time, I actually fainted.
Knowing all that it takes to become an astronaut, I still went after this dream – which was finally dashed one day when I was 18 years old, as I was sitting in a doctor’s office and heard the news that I have medical issues that take me out of consideration.
Do I regret spending 10 years of my life pursuing this? Do I regret the experiences that I had because of it?
Not one bit.
My friends have observed that I get a bit reserved when I talk about that period of my life, but instead I like to focus on everything I have done after that. I know I didn’t fail because of lack of effort – I simply am not a perfect specimen of humanity.
And after all, the prime motivator for my passion was due to one time NASA was lax with the rules; it would be hypocritical of me to be upset about not fitting their requirements.
Originally Posted: https://www.quora.com/What-passion-of-yours-have-you-followed-How-did-it-change-your-life
Originally Posted On: 2015-04-07