If you’ve never seen the 1999 classic “The Mummy,” I’m going to need you to stop and chastise yourself for a moment before we can get back to this blog.
So, I loved this movie as a kid (um, I still drop everything and watch it when it’s on TV). I wanted to be just like Rachel Weisz’s sassy archaeologist character, Evy Carnahan. She was forever reading books, outsmarting the boys and having adventures in ancient Egypt … she was the beautiful nerd I still aspire to be.
Anyway, by the time I was 12, this movie (despite its monumental historical inaccuracy) had cemented my love of ancient history and my perception that being a lifelong scholar of ancient culture would be glamorous, fun, and rife with opportunities to hang out with swashbuckling men.
SO I MINORED IN ART HISTORY IN COLLEGE
My fascination with history, and particularly ancient history, lead me to all sorts of cool classes in college. I never missed a single class if it was The Art & Architecture of Ancient Egypt, Greek Art & Architecture, or The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
I definitely didn’t have the same zeal for my major (Communications, with an emphasis on PR) that I had for art history, but I’d chosen it because I thought it would be easier to get a job if I majored in something more traditionally “useful.”
By the time I realized that I didn’t care about PR at all, it was spring of my senior year and too late to change tracks. I freaked out and went to one of my art history professors and asked her how I could seriously pursue my love of art and archeology.
SHE TRIED TO LET ME DOWN EASY
Becoming a real archaeologist requires a lot of education. Not only do you need a Ph.D., but you also need to be relatively fluent at reading German (of which I’d never taken a single class), because one of the fathers of modern archaeology was German and, well, he wrote everything in his own language. Go figure.
It also requires a lot of painstaking research and tedium that “The Mummy” naturally glossed right over.
She picked up on how little I actually understood about the real-world implications of archaeology and tried to urge me down a path that was more suitable, given my education: Why not seriously consider doing Marketing or PR for a museum?
But that idea left me feeling deflated. I wanted whatever I pursued next to make me feel like I did when I was learning about ancient art and architecture: excited, energized, studious, and adventurous.
SO I IGNORED HER AND TRIED TO GO TO GRAD SCHOOL
I was so determined to stay in the art history bubble (despite my incredible lack of preparation) that I visited a university to have interviews about grad school with a few professors in their art history department.
They confirmed that yes, I’d need to learn German. And definitely Latin. Oh, and probably French (I’d taken high school Spanish). And the real kicker … I needed to be good at math. Because archaeology has quite a lot of measuring and physics that goes with it, apparently. (This was shaping up to be a problem, since I loathe math and am terrible at it.)
But the students in the department were surrounded by stacks of books! And there were real men in tweed (Yes! Like Dan Brown himself!), which looked a lot better than any desk I could imagine. So, the dream lived on.
AND THEN I TRIED TO LEARN GERMAN FOR A WHILE
I got my first real job out of college (working in a marketing department) and simultaneously enrolled in an online German 101 class at my local community college as well as an in-person Latin 101 class.
I figured I would get the necessary language prerequisites under my belt and then apply to grad school in a year or two.
Except … I hated having to teach myself German. And I really hated driving to my Latin class right after work and not getting home until past 10:30 PM.
I didn’t feel how I’d felt in my art history classes at all. It felt like drudgery, like a boring obligation that I wanted nothing more than to back out of.
So I stuck it out for a semester … and then I promptly dropped out.
HOW NOT TO WASTE YOUR TIME PURSUING ARCHAEOLOGY … OR ANYTHING ELSE
I learned the hard way that the difference between an interest and a passion is how much you’re willing to do the drudgework that goes with it.
Yeah, I loved the idea (however misguided & uninformed) of being an archaeologist. But in reality? My fascination didn’t equate to real passion … and that’s OK.
Because honestly, how I felt was never really about archaeology. I was attracted to how the idea of ancient art had made me feel since I was a kid (energized, excited, adventurous, and studious).
Art and ancient stuff still make me feel that way … when I’m appreciating it in a good book or a museum.
Do you know what else makes me feel energized, excited, adventurous, and studious?
Having my own business.
And do you know what I’m willing to put in the tedium and drudge work for?
Having my own business.
Genuinely appreciating something and being passionate about it don’t have to be the same thing. Passion requires sweat and exertion. Appreciation doesn’t have to. And honestly, putting pressure on something you appreciate (like trying to turn it in to a career) can ruin your intrinsic enjoyment of it.
So, what do you want to love and appreciate, just for the sake of it? And what are you passionate about enough that you’d sweat to make it happen?
Rachel (+ Kristen)
Great post! Currently experiencing the same – passion vs interest…vs talent.
I love this post! I majored in art history and also toyed with the idea of being an archaeologist . . . until I discovered that the job was very different from just learning about and appreciating art, which is what I loved about my classes. Rachel, I think we were just talking about this in our session today – how not everything you enjoy should necessary be what you pursue as a career, because putting pressure on certain hobbies can take the fun out of them. Still figuring out what makes me feel how I want to feel, that I’m also willing to sweat for . . .
I majored in Anthropology with emphasis in Archaeology so I know what you mean! I loved studying it, but it would require MANY more years in education in order to become a full-time archaeologist. Here’s to discovering my passions and talents! http://www.kjerstinbjerga.com