The Chesapeake Bay Program was an environmental project funded by three states, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. The Bay was plagued with algae blooms and other environmental issues that threatened the health of the ecosystem and the wildlife in that area.
In the summer, this was the greatest job. In shorts and a t-shirt, out on the water day after day, watching the dolphins play. It was beautiful out there, and I felt like I was doing something good. Winter was a little different story, in the wind and rain out on the water. Maybe that is where I developed my strong distaste for being cold. But it was worth it to be out there in the winter, because that is when the whales would show up to feed at the mouth of the Bay. I fell in love with them.
To get more involved, I volunteered at the VA Beach Marine Science Museum, as a docent on whale watches. I got to go out with tourists and tell people all about the amazing Humpback whales that we had the privilege of seeing. I also volunteered at the museum itself. Feeding sting rays, helping kids pick up horseshoe crabs out of the touch tank, I could just sit and watch those creatures for hours.
I loved my career so much, I had vanity plates made that said OCN SCI. This was supposed to stand for Ocean Science. My brother joked and called me, "Ocken-ski". Whatever. I was an ocean scientist!
After about three years at my researcher job and the volunteer position, a paid position became available at the Marine Science Museum. Literally, my dream job was available and I was right here, with experience. I applied and got an interview. And in the interview, I felt as though I had an out of body experience, like it used to feel to do public speaking. I couldn't think, I couldn't talk, my voice shook. I blew the interview and someone else got the job.
I was so crushed, I lost a grip on everything. I quit the volunteer position first, then I quit the researcher job. "Never good enough!!" screamed through my head, but I projected it out onto everyone around me. I suddenly hated everything about my Ocean Science career, including my beloved dolphins and whales.
I am sure I would have loved a career in marine science and the Marine Science Museum would have been a wonderful place to work. But THANK GOD I didn't get that job. It was a long, meandering road to get to where I am today. But I know without a doubt, this is the job I am supposed to have. This is what I've been called to do. I found my purpose because that door closed.
I know it can feel like you are lost, or have completely missed your chance. I believed that because I didn't get that job, my career would never be what I'd hoped for. And it was me who had blown it. I had the chance right there in my hands, and I'd squandered it because I didn't have enough confidence in myself.
I want to encourage someone today. It may feel like all hope is lost. It may feel like your time, your purpose has slipped through your hands. Don't believe it for a second. There's something even better coming your way. Whether it is your health, fitness, relationships, career…there's something better coming your way. And it will be more than you ever asked for or even imagined.