Why I Studied Physics

When people find out I studied Physics at university, the first question I usually get is something along the lines of “…Why?!”

(The question is usually preceded by a statement like “Wow, I was terrible at physics in high school,” at which I just smile and commiserate.)

Up until about third year, I used to give a canned answer – something about transferable skills, problem solving, mysteries of the universe… Blah, blah, blah. For a while, I think I may have actually believed it. But now that I’m neither studying nor pursuing a career in Physics, it begs the question: honestly, why did I do it?

Reason #1: Physics was my best subject in high school.

With no clue what I wanted to do with my life at seventeen, I looked to my report card for guidance. And actually, my top mark was a tie. My choices were Physics or English. Which brings me to my next point…

Reason #2: It looks good.

I’d spent 13 years in school trying to get top marks and excel academically, and I wasn’t about to stop there! I felt that saying that I’d majored in Physics would look good to relatives, peers, and potential employers. This was especially in comparison to English, which was my other best option at the time. I’d grown up hearing that Arts degrees wouldn’t get me as far in life, so I wasn’t about to take the chance.

If I were to spin this reason in a more positive way, I’d say it was more about the transferable skills from taking on a difficult set of courses. But that wouldn’t be true. When I was choosing a major in Grade 12, it was all about whether I would look smart, not about if I would actually be smart.

Reason #3: Interest?

I’ve had a mild interest in Astronomy since I was a kid, fueled mostly by my dad’s interest in the subject. Contact was my favourite movie, and I even got my own telescope! (Well, okay, I got it for free. But that’s a topic for another time.) I figured if I immersed myself in the subject, I would become more passionate about it. Turns out that wasn’t quite the case, because most of my interest boiled down to Reason #2: it looked good for me, the self-professed Queen of the Nerds, to be into Astronomy. I still do have that mild interest, but not enough interest to keep me coming back day in and day out.

In examining the reasons I chose my major, it’s no surprise I didn’t end up going on to an MSc, PhD, and/or career. I’m not ruling those things out forever, mind you. And I don’t regret studying physics, because it did help me gain those skills, meet new people, and get a better idea of who I am. For now, though, I’m still on the hunt for my real passions.

How did you pick your major? Is it still the love of your academic life?

I’m new to this whole blogging thing, so I thought it would be nice to give a bit of context for what I’ll be posting in the future. Without further ado, here are some questions about me! (From this blog, who got it from this blog.)

1. Are you named after anyone? Indeed. I’m named after Sir Edmund Hillary. I don’t know if there’s any deep meaning behind it, other than that climbing Mount Everest is cool.

2. When was the last time you cried? Joe made me watch Up for the first time last weekend.

3. Do you have kids? Just the furry one.

4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself? Depends on what the other me is like… maybe?

5. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Quite a bit. Sometimes it’s not obvious to other people, which gets a little awkward.

6. Will you ever bungee-jump? Doubtful.

7. What’s your favorite cereal? Special K Red Berry.

8. What’s the first thing you notice about people? Whether or not they seem sincere.

9. What is your eye colour? Blue-green-grey.

10. Scary movie or happy endings? Happy endings, for sure. I can only handle scary movies if I know there’s a happy ending.

11. Favorite smells? Vanilla, and cooking pasta.

12. Summer or winter? Winter. I like the indoors and being able to cuddle up under blankets with tea. You can always add more layers, but there are only so many layers you can take off.

13. Computer or television? Computer. Hands down. At this point I don’t know how I would live without it.

14. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home? I went to France for a mini-exchange for ten days in the 10th grade.

15. Do you have any special talents? I would say editing. (Don’t mind the sentence fragments scattered throughout this blog – they’re intentional, I swear!)

16. Where were you born? Brampton.

17. What are your hobbies? Reading, writing, knitting, TV, Pinterest (hah), video games (mainly the Sims, but also other things), singing when I can

18. Do you have any pets? Yes – my darling Lorelai!

19. Favorite movie? Legally Blonde or Contact. That answer always cracks me up, but it’s true.

20. Do you have any siblings? Yes, one seventeen-year-old sister.

21. What do you want to be when you grow up? Happy. Maybe not the moment-by-moment kind, but the general satisfaction kind. I haven’t figured out the practical parts of that yet.

I tag whoever else wants to answer these!

Hey there. My name’s Hillary. Looks like you’ve stumbled across my blog!

What’s this blog about? That’s a question we’ll be exploring together over the next few posts at least. Right now, I plan on writing about things I love, things I know, things I want to know, and opinions I have – things like:

cats, coffee, video games, organization, knitting, positivity, science, writing…

Now the question is: if I don’t know what the blog is about, why am I writing it? Two reasons come to mind.

  1. I need to be writing, if I’m going to call myself a writer. (More on that later.)
  2. Maybe this is a longshot, but I’m led to believe that in getting my thoughts out into the world, I might actually figure out what it is I’m passionate about so that I can pursue it wholeheartedly.

In the meantime, I’m going to try a little bit of everything. Opinions are appreciated!

Thanks for reading, and welcome!