I told my students today that I am here because they are. They laughed, smiled, and went “Aww.”
But it’s true. Choose your profession for whatever reasons propel you when you’re young, but as you age you’ll see you can’t maintain passion for a job simply for money. It’s about the people. All of life is about the people. How can you help them? What strengths do they have? How do they relate to others?
I started my professional career as a chemical engineer, making automotive coatings, and I loved that first job, not for the paint, or the chemistry, or the challenge of research (although I enjoyed all of those things). I loved the job because of the people. They were smart and hard-working and fun(ny). Smart and funny are my favorite combination. If your brain is so well-trained and curious that you notice humor in every corner, you’re enjoyable to those around you. If you’re cranky and competitive and serious ALL-THE-TIME, your colleagues will find it a challenge to interact with you day after day.
Teaching chemistry is, of course, interesting because of the science. But without the students, it wouldn’t be fun. So, yes, I am here because they are here. The end.