Why Pamela Gay rocks

Contributed by
May 15, 2008

I have been friends with Pamela Gay, of Star Stryder and Astronomy Cast, for many years. I've always been a fan of her style: she's a great teacher, writer, and outreach pro.

She just gave me two great reasons to like her even more. She's written two fantastic posts in a row: Majoring in Astronomy: Like English, but more expensive and Caring for students: 1 in 4 need more.

I have nothing to add about the second post -- though I have been in a similar position, where I've wanted to scream my lungs out about some issue but it would have been totally inappropriate under the circumstances (such as on my blog) -- but to the first I do want to say something.

When I was in high school, the worst future I could imagine for myself was toiling away in a cubicle somewhere, or even in any kind of office-like setting. Some folks can do that, and they love it. That's fine! It just doesn't work for me. It's not that I thought I was due for something better; it was just that the thought of that was stifling.

Nonetheless, in a sense that's what I did for several years. Oh, I wasn't in a cubicle per se, but I was in an office environment working for and with others. It turns out that reality wasn't as bad as my high school fears; I could survive in an office setting. But somehow I was never really comfortable.

Now, I'm not a loner by any means, but somehow that sort of thing just never really fit me. I liked the people I worked with, and for the most part I liked the work. The environment was usually pretty good (well, Goddard Space Flight Center has all the hominess of a rural prison, but Sonoma State University was quite lovely, and the offices we had were great). And honestly, the majority of the stuff I've done over the past 14 years since getting my degree has been really interesting.

But somehow, deep down (and sometimes not so deep), I knew I just wanted to write, to give talks, to make videos. On my own, or at least unfettered to the point where I could say what I wanted, when I wanted, and how I wanted. Sure, I'll always want and need an editor, but I wrote the book the way I wanted to write it. I write the blog the way I want to write it. I give talks the way I want give them. I make my videos the way I want.

Leaving a salary and moving was a huge risk, and it still is. And as much as I liked doing what I did before, doing this now really was the right choice for me. It's like I'm finally doing what I have always wanted to do.

So read Pamela's post about majoring in astronomy, and think on what you're doing with your life right now too. All our stories are different in subtle and important ways, so perhaps there won't be a direct imprint of what she wrote on what you're living through. But it certainly resonated with me.

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