My parents gave me a small telescope, then I built my own, and one thing led to another. So that's how I ended up going from being a hobby astronomer to a professional astronomer.
I grew up in Bulgaria in a small city on the Black Sea Coast, so I was very interested in the sea, marine life, and everything related to it. But it was also a very dark place at night, so I could see the stars. And I just got very interested in it.
Life is extremely resilient once it takes hold, but it requires rich chemistry, large energy sources, and stability, right from the beginning. The comparative planetology of our solar system makes it seem like those initial conditions are hard to come by.
It's feasible that we'll meet other sentient life forms and conduct commerce with them. We don't now have the technology to physically travel outside our solar system for such an exchange to take place, but we are like Columbus centuries ago, learning fast how to get somewhere few think possible.
People quite often think of the question 'Are we alone in the universe?' in terms of other civilizations out there: life forms that have reached at least our level of technological development.
When we discover New Earth - a planet we could call home - the question of the 'plurality of worlds' will come front and center, reminding us yet again that we are not the center of the universe.