When I was a kid, I had this picture in my mind of what "my future self" would look like, all grown up. The image was basically Jane Goodall, wearing field clothes and sitting in a jungle with a notebook, staring up into the canopy. As I was crouched beside a watering hole the other day, watching a troop of howler monkeys foraging overhead, I realized that I had become my future self. The thought caught me by surprise, and for a split second I was looking at myself from outside my body - which was kind of strange but cool.
It brought my thoughts to the fact that many of my friends are still struggling to figure out what they want to do, while I have known what I wanted since I was eight. I have learned that this makes people jealous, and apparently gives me a great advantage, in the sense that I have security in my identity that lots of college students lack. I have tried to imagine what it would be like to not have a clue as to what direction I wanted to take my life, and it seems terrifying.
Even with the knowledge and sense of security that has come from pursuing my chosen career for over a decade now, I am still far from being at ease. Every question I have ever asked has only brought up additional questions, so that now I have accumulated more than I could ever hope to answer. But as I walked down the dirt road back towards camp after my realization - with my dusty baseball cap and sunglasses perched on my head, my hair in a bun, a camera bag slung over my shoulder, and wearing my white button-up shirt, rolled-up field pants, and tattered sneakers - I couldn't help but smile at the fact that I was pleased with who I am - and ecstatic to be where I was. It feels nice once in a while to be reassured that the thing you've been trying so hard to attain for so long is still the thing you want to attain.