Let’s talk about making the most of what you’ve got and embracing the opportunities that present themselves.

My first field job opened a whole new world up to me – it’s what drew me into scientific research and made me realize that I am capable of even being a scientist. So naturally, I couldn’t wait to get back into the field the following summer. Unfortunately I didn’t land a field job – instead I ended up being a ranger at a local park, and most of the time, it was a painfully dull job. But since I was wandering the trails all the time, I started noticing something I had never really noticed before – mushrooms. Everywhere. I decided to take my camera with me to work and take pictures of all of the mushrooms I saw.

That winter I started this blog to keep track of the species I’d seen. I continued to take pictures and update the blog even after getting back into fieldwork the following summer. All the while, the blog gathered more and more followers until I formed a community.

Last year, I had to take a leave of absence from grad school because I got diagnosed with a chronic illness. That summer I wasn’t working, I wasn’t in school. I ended up losing my research assistantship because of the limitations of my illness. I was devastated. I needed to do something with my time to give myself purpose, so I started making educational Youtube videos.

By that fall, I’d given up on that graduate program and decided to look for another one. I found an interesting potential advisor, flew out to Utah to meet him, and fast forward to now, I am living in Utah, going to grad school and following my dreams in lichenology. My current advisor decided to take me on before he saw any of my grades, my GRE score, anything. But you know what he had seen?

My photography. He saw my Youtube videos.

The point of this novel is that you gotta keep chugging away, not only looking for the silver lining but actively maximizing on it. You never know what’s going to happen. Even during the most painful parts of your life you can build a ladder.