Perhaps because there are no other scientists or professors on my mother's side of the family, my mother and her sisters have constructed an explanation for why they think I became a scientist. This family legend involves some childhood experiences provided by my maternal grandparents and other relatives. Now, every summer when I visit the ancestral home, the legend is retold. Someone will say to me "Do you think you are a scientist because ...?" and then the story is retold. I always respond with some variation of "possibly".
I think they have created (and often repeat) this explanation to find a way to connect my strange life to my family more. For this reason I never dispute the story, despite its being somewhat bizarre. Also, I don't necessarily have a better explanation. I didn't have any important science mentors or other early influences of that sort. I always liked my science classes in school, but I was, if anything, more inclined towards literature, languages, and history. My family was shocked when I discovered a passion for a particular field of science in college, and it wasn't long after that they started developing the family legend for Why I Am A Scientist.
This past week, I heard variations on the story at least 4 times. I replied "possibly", "perhaps", "maybe", and "I suppose that could be it".
2 years ago