I am a cell and molecular biology major. Yesterday I went to work in my professor's lab, as I frequently do on Monday. He works with fish, and his research is fascinating. It has potential applications for use in things like refining chemotherapy. Plus, the fish are awesome. I got in early yesterday and ate my lunch at the table while watching some fish swim around in bags sitting on the table.
He came in a little while later and told me that I'd be cleaning fish tanks today. I said 'cool' as my back punched me in the face in advance. Everyone starts out cleaning stuff though, because you gotta start somewhere, especially as an undergrad.
I pointed to the fish on the table and smiled. "You guys breeding tonight?" They breed rather a lot of fish in this place.
"No," he said. "Actually, these guys are going in the homogenizer."
"Oh." You probably couldn't see it by looking at me, but my heart just fell through my feet.
I haven't really been the same since. Now, I'm not even a vegetarian. I probably kill a million insects by accident just walking to class. I know that everything dies, and that the research is important. What's more, I recognize that there is only so much cellular research you can do before you have to kill something, and this is my field of interest. But I don't like it. I don't know if I can do it. I don't know what I'm going to do about it. I knew what I was getting into, but I'm not comfortable with this.
I'm sure everybody has a hard time starting out. I'm sure nobody walks into work in the morning singing "Yeah baby, gonna kill the crap out of some animals today!" My dad was in research. He said the first time he had to put something down to study it was a frog for a lab, and it wasn't easy, but it was necessary, and you get used to it.
It's not a religious thing. My religion pretty much says that people come first, and helping them is the most important thing. It's not like I would be forcing rabbits to eat lipstick; this research, and most likely whatever other research I'll get myself into, has medical application. I love learning about this stuff and I know that this is what I want to do. And they're "just fish", but that's not a distinction I can easily make. I feel like it's wrong for me to do this, and it's got me really depressed and feeling kind of melodramatic.
Is this something I will get over? Should I get over it? Am I lacking perspective here? How do I make this kind of decision? I'm going to school for this.