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Why I Chose Chemistry

When everyone in high school compared the programs they applied for and what they intended to major in, I never included myself in those conversations…because I didn’t know. For me, this wasn’t always the obvious answer. In fact, I didn’t have the slightest idea until my second year.


It didn’t come easily to me, nor was I good at it. I knew it, my high school chemistry teacher knew it. Orbitals, reactions, dative bonds…everything was so abstract to me and it came as a package. Always accepting concepts, without interest in the bigger picture. To be honest, there wasn’t anything appealing about it for the longest time. In grade 12, the redox unit really piqued my interest. That was the first time it clicked for me, and for a couple months, it made sense. The industry applications of redox chemistry had me looking it up on the internet at night, learning about it even though I didn’t have to. I didn’t feel that sense of satisfaction and level of engagement until I took CHEM 211 in second year university.


CHEM 211 introduced me to a new stream of chemistry: analytical. Something about instrumentation and the mechanics of it made me want to learn about the chemistry going on in it. I guess finding my passion happened backwards. It happened in a way that I couldn’t predict. And I didn’t even know until the course was done.


It wasn’t always chemistry, or anything else for that matter. But the thing about it is it’s exciting. It’s challenging. There are a lot of questions, and a lot that havn’t been answered yet. The turning point was when I realized I wanted to be there to witness when the question marks are scratched out with “maybe this is it” publications, or when the “what if’s” turned into conclusions. For me, the big explosions and colourful reactions didn’t do it. It was the applications of chemistry. The “why” behind it all.


And the fact is, chemistry would still be chemistry, in all its wild and exhilarating glory, if I didn’t take it. But I wouldn’t be who I am today without chemistry. All those nights spent looming over textbooks and problem solving really fueled my interest for this subject, even if I didn’t know it back then. All of this innovative and ever-changing science I never would have looked twice at. It’s not always easy, but it makes me the happiest—no matter how corny that sounds.


So maybe it doesn’t happen all at once for everyone, or at the same time as everyone. And sometimes maybe passion isn’t innate, but something you have to nurture.


To this day, I still don’t know if this is right for me. But I know that I enjoy it. I know that I am eager to learn more about it. And maybe now the things that scared me the most about it weren’t the monsters after all, just the shadows in winter sunsets.


Do what makes your heart pound. You’ll know it when you feel it.


-Janet

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