I hate being paranoid.
Lately I am wishing I had rose-coloured glasses when it comes to the people in my field.
For a while I have been trying to ignore the fact that I don't trust the other postdocs in my lab.
We all know we will be competing for jobs the way we are already competing for papers and the PI's attention. And it's hard to pretend it's not happening. It's a source of constant stress for me.
I always try to be up front with people and just assume, well we are all smart enough, or at least I know I am, so why be insecure? There should be enough work to go around, we all have different interests and different strengths, we can try to work together.
But they always play dumb when it suits them. We are supposed to share reagents, but they can't remember where anything is when I need it. Or they give me an aliquot of the wrong thing.
Part of this is the PI's fault. If there were a system in place where we could all access everything independently, they wouldn't be able to do this.
Instead I am left making tough decisions about whether it's worth it to spend what little reagent money I have for my own project duplicating lab reagents, just so I can have a stock that I know is good, and keep it somewhere safe from their greedy little fingers.
It doesn't help that they are almost all men. I recently heard someone refer to the one bay in the lab that has three women and one guy as the "girly bay."
Nobody calls any of the bays with four men the "manly bays."
I mean, give me a break. Apparently it's still so unusual that it bears commenting when there are more than two women working in the same place!
Then yesterday, there was a speaker here who is pretty big in our field. I really enjoyed his talk and found myself thinking maybe I made a mistake not going to do a postdoc with him.
Now I should back up and say that I never applied to his lab, because a friend of mine interviewed there and told me a horrifying story. She said that when she finally had five minutes to use the restroom, the women from the lab cornered her and told her the PI was a misogynistic pig and that she shouldn't go there, because she would definitely regret it.
She said she had no way of knowing if it was true or if this was some kind of competitive, manipulative ploy to scare her off, but it worked either way because she said the atmosphere was decidedly scary.
So she went elsewhere, and I never applied to even go visit.
Maybe a mistake, I don't know.
So I enjoyed this guy's talk enough to have second thoughts. But then I introduced myself afterwards and asked him some questions, and I am still feeling uncomfortable about it.
He was SO dismissive, as happens to me about half the time with visiting speakers, that the encounter is still ringing in my ears. I don't know if I made a mistake talking to him, or if I should send him my paper to review.
Yes, I'm that conflicted about it.
They all say you have to win over your biggest critics, find out what they want to know and then show them why you're right.
But some days I just want to crawl under my desk and hide.