Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Delayed gratification, continued.

Like most days, I had every intention of being in a good mood when I got up.

I was in a good mood in the shower, which is not all that common. Usually I'm not in a good mood until I'm in the car, listening to my iPod on the way to work.

This time of year, I am often happy walking in from where I park my car. It's a reasonably long walk, and things are turning green and the sun is starting to come out and make things a little warmer. We have a pretty campus, and I appreciate that. So I often look up at the sky and smile.

But today I was barely out of my neighborhood when I nearly ran over a jogger, who thumped on my car and glared.

I am pretty sure I didn't do anything wrong, so it really pissed me off.

I'm a very careful driver. I'm apologetic if I do something stupid.

So I'm pretty sure the jogger was wrong, and I really didn't deserve to have my car thumped.

And getting glared at is not a good way to start the day.

I walked in from the car and found myself dreading having to deal with people, and sure enough, most of the people I saw at work annoyed me.

And I thought, why am I in such a crappy mood today? The jogger can't possibly explain it.

Just shake it off, I said to myself, shake it off.

I realized my main problem right now is the anticlimax. I have several projects going, and none of them are anywhere near a finish line.

This has been going on for a while. I like taking small steps, but taking them assertively. I like getting results and filing them away as progress.

But the things I'm doing right now do not have obvious stopping points. There are no identifiable intermediates. I can't tell how far along I am in the process, and I'm not really sure when I can call them finished.

I used to like doing really new things, but this is the drawback:

I am doing nothing that anyone can measure relative to everything that came before.

I hate this about being a postdoc. It is infinite.

Infinitely long, infinitely slow, infinitely painful most of the time.

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At 7:47 PM, Blogger ~profgrrrrl~ said...

I'm curious -- why are you not normally in a good mood in the shower?

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

I'm neither a morning person nor a shower person by choice, but both by profession.

Left to my own devices, I would sleep in, and taken baths at night before going to bed instead of showering first thing in the morning.

My default state upon awakening is, "oh crap, I have to get up."

It takes a while for that to wear off.

At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi YoungFemaleScientist,

Hang in there. It is really rough being a postdoc.
Try to keep your nose to the grindstone, and find ways to keep yourself happy as well. It does get better, and the coping skills you are learning now will help for the future too.
Do good work & stay sane. Yours,
Medium-youngFemaleScientist (prof at research U)

At 6:38 AM, Blogger mmarchin said...

Sometimes it's the really small things in life. I really like the following concept, and I know it holds true for me.

"Even something which seems like a tiny, inconsequential frustration affects your mood. Your emotions don't seem to care about the magnitude of the event, only the quality.

And I started to learn that the days when I was happiest were the days with lots of small successes and few small frustrations."

from Joel on Software

At 6:41 AM, Blogger mmarchin said...


Okay, also, I just happened to see this and it sounded good to me. I'll stop now, really. :)

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

I love Joel on Software.

And I already do all the stuff on the happiness project page. But it becomes like setting your clocks fast to prevent yourself from being late- at some point, you catch on.

Yes, we depressive types are very good at outsmarting ourselves.


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