Although I'm physics and astrophysics (3rd/ 4th year or so as I've changed majors a few times) on paper, i.e. per my transcript, in truth, I've done a lot more math courses than physics ones. I've also more or less completed a minor in economics. I came from a finance major background, and this could not have been more unrelated to my life's passions and interests. I made a mistake, but I was young, and we all do. Furthermore, I've run businesses, so at least I can complete some studies in economics to put on a resume.

However, I'm beginning to lose a bit of passion for physics as I'm truly 100% loyal and passionate towards pure mathematics. While I do love physics in general, the fact is that I mostly love it because of the math. Furthermore, because I've completed advanced math courses but I am not advanced in the physics labs, I find myself lagging somewhat in the laboratory work. I like to learn "truthful" facts, and with math, I feel that I am constantly proving and focusing on truth. With physics, however, I sometimes question whether I am learning factual formulas or theories, or whether the things I learn today will be re-proven incorrect in 30-50 years from now. Additionally, I was going to pursue both physics and engineering or physics, math, and computer science. Once upon a time, I wanted nothing more than to do experimental physics with my life, but now I hesitate to dream about this further, because my lab work is mediocre. It seems that biologist and chemists do the physics lab work just as good as myself, which makes me feel embarrassed.

So, I feel that I have narrowed down my choices somewhat as I'm stuck between a "more physics" route or a "more math" route. Everyone tells me that I love physics with everything in me, which is true. However, I only love it because of the math. I do love learning about atoms and all, but without a superior quality of lab work, my experimental physics choice seems a little lofty. Should I switch over to math, or should I instead persist and become better at lab work while I can? Is it normal to lose some passion, and to become jaded over time? Would appreciate advice from those who've gotten it more figured out than myself.

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    Well, if it helps a math proof that makes the assumption the Riemann hypothesis is true might also be made irrelevant in the future. Also, y'know math like...isn't real in the sense it's not bound by physicality to keep itself in check. That's another kind of truth. You sure that won't bug you after you've left physics behind?
    – DKNguyen
    May 15 at 0:43
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    This question is too person-specific to be answerable here. Can you make it more generic? That aside, it isn't clear what the issue is. "I enjoy maths more than physics, should I stick with physics?" would seem to invite the answer: "No, do what you enjoy!". What is the actual concern here?
    – avid
    May 15 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


This is a big question. I think first it's important to realize that you don't necessarily need to find a "passion" in school. There are lots of things in life to enjoy. And, no matter what, the thing that was super cool day 1 is going to be less cool day 1000 and even less cool day 10,000. That's not to say you can't still enjoy and be passionate about a subject, just don't expect to be riding that initial high forever. You're so early in your career that everything is new and interesting. It is especially difficult when you're starting out because if your anything like me - or any researcher/academic for that matter - you probably enjoy learning about new things in general.

When picking a career (or long-term academic commitment) it's easy to forget that interests change over time. I (unlike you) strongly disliked math through most of my life. I wasn't bad at it but I was thrilled to be done with my freshman year calculus class. Yet now I do a ton of modeling and computational work - lots of math. It's impossible to predict what you'll be doing in 5 or 10 years.

So all that said, the takeaway is don't stress too much because you can always pivot, change, and tailor your research/career to whatever you like. It sounds like you view this choice as somewhat pivotal, when in fact it is just one stepping stone. Do what you enjoy, but don't be think that you can never change your mind.