Ran across the lab website of an old acquaintance today, someone I knew from school.
This was one of those people - you know the type - that everyone thought was a Genius (or at least, some did). The Very Knowledgeable Type.
Well I kind of had to laugh because this person is now a professor at an up-and-coming school. By that I mean, it's not an R1. It's maybe a 2nd or 3rd tier school, trying to put more money into research but not quite there yet. Maybe a great place to be, who am I to judge?
But I guess I'm a little surprised, and disappointed in a way. It's always that question- are we all fooling ourselves, thinking we're Good Enough, or even if we're not we can work hard until we get where we want to be?
In other news, I was thinking again today about how I have this one paper that I never sent back. When I got the reviews back, I wasn't ready to deal with them right away.
I was thinking about how I've always been impatient, and how this is both good and bad for research. It makes me look for answers and work a lot, maybe more than others, but it also makes the waiting parts really hard.
I think it was when I was working in a lab during college that someone told me this phrase, "hurry up and wait" and I immediately seized on it as a way to describe my life, my research, the whole vibe.
I'm in a wait period right now, which I hate. More than anything else about this job, I hate the waiting.
There are a lot of opportunities to wait. When you put something in to incubate overnight. When you send off a paper, a grant, an application for a job. When your advisor never gets back to you. The usual stuff.
I always liked the part after you send off the paper, the grant, the application. Because if you did your job right, there's nothing more you can do. But wait. It's almost like a vacation. From guilt, anyway.
I don't like the part where I'm waiting for an experiment, for something to be ordered or arrive after ordering in the mail, for equipment to be fixed, for people to get back to me.
But when you get the reviews back, you have to make a choice. Argue (as I've mentioned before, something I view as work and not fun), or go elsewhere.
In this case, initially I wasn't ready to argue. I think telling my advisor that was a mistake. I think my advisor determined from that one statement that I'm not cut out for academia.
A few days later, I was ready to argue, and my advisor told me we should go elsewhere. I think this was also a mistake. But now it's too late. We never published the paper, and lately I'm feeling like we never will.
Meanwhile, when I had samples ready a few months ago, the equipment I needed was broken. Now that the equipment is available (because the other people who normally use it are all applying for faculty positions, because their papers came out in Top Journals), I don't have any samples.
It never ends, does it?
So anyway I was looking at this guy's profile, and I thought, How Boring. And I realized I was less confused by him having a job at Up and Coming University (rather than Big Famous University) than I was by him having a job at all.
Sometimes I wonder why we pay anyone to do this stuff. I'd like to think my stuff is more interesting, but of course even if it's wildly different from his, it's not more interesting in any way that's understandable or useful to the general public. Not really.
It's no wonder they don't want to pay me to do this stuff.