I feel like I'm gonna rain.
The weather is crappy.
I got no voicemail.
I got no email.
I'm feeling more isolated than ever, which is stupid because everyone is back from vacation and it's a virtual hullaballoo of hustle and bustle on campus.
But I'm doing all I can not to curl up in a ball under my desk.
Have generally felt lately like I've gotten nothing but criticism from above, while junior people gush about how much I know. I tell them it doesn't matter what I know if I don't know what I need to know (how to get a job I like instead of being stuck here).
Had a weird flash today that if somebody told me today that I wouldn't make it and they were firing me or stopping my funding, I could easily picture myself walking out, crying, and that would be the end of it.
But so far it didn't happen, so I had to think about why I feel like the axe is poised just above my head, all the time (aside from the obvious that my funding is finite and will run out before I get a job, and I don't know whether there's really a safety net to get me from here to there).
But here's what I came up with. My whole life, people have always said I had lots of potential and that's why they're so tough on me, tougher than they are on anyone else.
It seems unfair, somehow, to assume that their being tough on me always makes me stronger. It doesn't. Sure, we try to have a thick skin. But at some point, it plateaus and it's just negative.
It really just makes me wonder why, as our previous post discussed, we put up with people who are never nice, never encouraging, never consider that maybe they aren't always doing me a favor by pointing out everything from my biggest problems to my tiniest flaws.
And I have to wonder why, how they're so clueless as to not notice they're being nasty. Or if they assume that, because I don't always burst into tears when they say things, that I'm tough enough or I don't notice.
I know that I already know way more and have done way more, under some really awful working conditions, than some of my peers who have had everything handed to them, (including a job). I think it would bother anyone who had eyes in their head to see how things are handed to some people while others feel like life is a giant game of keep-away (or a game of Charlie Brown football).
But I guess I'm not competitive enough or something, because I've gotten past the jealousy part and I just get depressed. I don't blame the people who get what they want (what I want). I know they work hard. Maybe they've had it easier, but I can't fault them for making better choices about who to work with, by luck or by wisdom. I don't blame them for not sharing their secrets, conscious or unconscious, for success. I am the competition after all. Just because I'd rather have an equal playing ground doesn't mean things will ever be fair.
No, I blame the community that goes along with a system that doesn't work. Nobody seems to even consider or care that I'm just one, lonely example of someone who thinks every single day about quitting, because it just feels so pointlessly unfair sometimes. And that we lose and are losing and will continue to lose lots of otherwise potentially great scientists because they realize how unfair it all is, and when they do the calculations to figure out if it's worth all the crap, they come to the conclusion that they don't want to put up with it.
It just makes me sad.
I'm also still trying to remember that they might not be downright nasty (points our previous reader raised) except that
a) they don't realize they are / don't mean to be and
b) they think I can take it.
Perhaps some well-timed meltdowns would help improve the way they treat me? I have some friends who are good at that, but my meltdowns are always at the wrong times, in the wrong places, to be useful. And I always feel like, while it works for some (usually the beautiful) women to show vulnerability, for me it just makes me look weak. If she can't handle this, they say, she'll never make it. Which is ridiculous, because I know for a fact they're harder on me than they are on my male peers. I've sat in the journal clubs and the presentations. I know they're harder on the women, and for no good reason whatsoever. I think that's part of why I'm feeling so flattened lately.
I get screwed either way. If I give a good talk, they say, If she's so great, why doesn't she have a job already? I must be missing something that's wrong with her. I'll ask all the tough questions I can come up with and see if I can't ferret it out.
But just writing this makes me feel a little better, which is weird when you think about it. I still don't really understand the psychology of needing to write, I just know that I always have. I guess it helps me organize my thoughts and figure out which ones are semi-rational, and which ones are not...
Some days I really feel like blogging is the only thing that is going 'well.' The only reason I feel that way, I realize, is because it's the only area where I do something semi-creative, and get feedback regularly. So, thanks for commenting here, and sending questions I feel like I can (sort of) answer. I guess I like that it's regular, and relatively finite, to write a post and get some comments back. Unlike everything else in my life.