When we are in school, particularly high school, we tend to care the most about what people think of us. But, even as adults, many of us have a tendency to consider what others may think when making decisions in life, including what clothes to wear, vehicle to drive, neighborhood to live in, etc. When I was in high school, I too considered what my classmates thought of me, but I tried not to allow that to dictate what decisions I made. Although it may not have been the “cool” thing to do, I went to rock concerts with my parents. We went to see every artist possible: Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Stevie Nicks, Bon Jovi, Genesis, Rod Stewart, and Rick Springfield, to name a very few. While others may have thought it was uncool, my true friends thought it was nice and went with us. If I would have worried about what others thought, I may have missed out on some amazing concerts and fun experiences with my parents and close friends.
Now that I am an adult, I suppose some people may question my judgment in collecting replica dinosaur skulls along with real and cast fossils, which I enjoy sharing with the public as part of an educational exhibit. If anyone thinks it’s strange, they should see the faces of all the children who enjoy seeing my display, some of whom have never had the opportunity to touch a real dinosaur bone or have their photo taken with a dinosaur skull.
Many children, both boys and girls, tell me that they aspire to be a paleontologist. I use that as an opportunity to emphasize how important it is for them to do well in school in order to achieve their dream. If they later discover they want to pursue an entirely different career, that’s ok, too. It really doesn’t matter to me whether a child is going through a “dinosaur phase” or whether they will make it their life’s work; I am just happy to think I may have played a role in inspiring them to learn.
There is so much in life that brings us down these days from stress at work to bills, to all the strife going on in the world, it is an amazing feeling to know you have inspired someone. For this reason, if you have not already found your “passion,” I encourage you to find a hobby or area of interest that genuinely excites you, learn as much as you can about it, and share it with others regardless of whether you ever turn it into a career.
Of course, not everyone will be interested in your passion. For sure, not everyone is interested in dinosaurs and paleontology. However, you do not have to inspire everyone you meet. When you share your passion, however, you will be surprised how much you will enrich your own life in the process.
And, if you don’t fit any particular mold, be proud and stay true to yourself. When you get out there and meet people, you will find there are those who appreciate you and are inspired by your individuality. And when you encounter those who think you should be more like everyone else, don’t let them get in your head or put a damper on your passion. There are too many people out there who are just waiting for a spark of inspiration. Remember, it is usually those who stand out from the crowd who make a difference in this world.