I have tried to avoid being cliché all my life. I didn’t want to be exactly like everyone else. In elementary school, everyone loved animals, which is why I didn’t. I never was obsessed with horses or dolphins or unicorns simply because everybody else was. So it wasn’t until the 8th grade that I accepted my passion; animals.
Of course the masses love dogs and zebras and elephants. Everyone except me. Being the unique person I am (or am trying to be), I swayed towards the animals that people were afraid of. Ones that didn’t make people go "Aww!" Ones that weren't watched on YouTube for fun. Ones that aren't cliché. Reptiles.
I was on vacation in Washington D.C. with my family when my obsession began. There's no exact reason why it happened that way. I was basically like, "hey I like turtles," and it grew from there.
By the end of my freshman year, turtles were starting to become cliché. I guess the rest of the world started to see what I saw in them, which was intriguing. At that point I was so entranced by the animals that I didn’t want to let go, so I didn’t. I expanded my horizons.
In the summer of 2017, my mom bought a class pet for her preschoolers. At first they were going to get a hermit crab, but eventually decided on something better; a bearded dragon.
I absolutely fell in love with the little lizard that we named Vinny (short for Vilkas, but only if you ask me). I enjoyed the fact that people were afraid of him. Loving this lizard was unique, so I stuck with it.
My love for Vinny amplified into an entire love for all lizards. Multiple pet store visits and Google searches later, that passion became reptiles in general. From turtles to lizards to geckos and yes, even snakes.
Since sophomore year was beginning and college was getting closer, I thought it was time to genuinely start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to do something with reptiles, I just didn’t know what. My love for reptiles and my interest in science led me to herpetology, the study of reptiles.
I applied and got accepted into the zoo academy to further strengthen my knowledge and passion for reptiles. While I am yet to start my classes at the zoo, I still study random facts on reptiles in my spare time. Did you know that a chameleon changes colors based on its emotions, not its surroundings?
Herpetology was a combination of two things that were important to me, reptiles and being unique. Because the scaly creatures are seen as frightening, they don’t get as much love and care. Many reptiles are endangered and need human involvement to save their species. I will devote my life to these animals, because very few others will. Reptiles are not mean. They are not out to kill everything. All they know is survive, and I will help them do just that.