Written by Julia

I’ve been working in conservation for over 10 years, one of those who worked up through the ranks by volunteering after my mostly useless humanities BA and work history in administration. I’ve worked in environmental education, project leading, animal rehab (briefly), and research, and I loved it all, but I always felt I was lacking something essential to really belong in the sector.

All of this culminated in deciding to take an MSc course in Conservation, so I could take the next step and be a real person in conservation. I wanted to do field research, be out in the bush, and contribute in some way. It was my future and it was going to be great!

But I am one of the cursed class of 2020. I loved my course and was excelling, but as I was planning my thesis field work, the pandemic hit and it was cancelled. My project became an online exercise in public engagement. I hated it. Basically, it became everything I’d been trying to move away from for 10 years: humanities and admin. I powered through, did the whole thing over the summer under some seriously adverse conditions and still managed to get a distinction, but there was no celebration.

COVID was like an earthquake to the path I was walking on and my direction was lost.  All the remains is a chasm that I have no idea how to get around. I never had the chance to really get into research so I don’t know if I’d be able to do field roles seriously. I’m not deep enough into the marketing or communications aspect that I did my thesis on to work in that, nor do I enjoy it. I’m currently focussed on photography, which I love, but although I’m good in my lane I don’t have the skills or drive to take it anyway substantial. I tried volunteering again and doing citizen science surveys, but nothing seems to sit well with me. I don’t feel like I belong even in the places I loved the best. I just don’t seem to fit anywhere.

I got into conservation because I wanted to belong to something and make a difference, but I feel ever more the opposite. I don’t know where my passion went, or the hope, or my future. I just don’t feel like a conservationist anymore, and I don’t know why. And I feel so alone.