Oh, the irony.
After I wrote that post yesterday I sucked it up, went through the motions of finishing a few minor things that absolutely had to get done*, and left a little earlier than usual.
And amazingly, I felt a lot better.
I went to the gym, I went home, I watched Shaun Johnson finally get a little of the gold she should have won earlier (if it weren't for the fucked up women's gymnastics judging).
This morning I felt okay, not too tired, and came to work knowing I have some Important Experiments To Do.
And then I got some news I really didn't want.
Obviously I can't blog the details here. But PhysioProf left another comment on my last post to the effect of, I wouldn't be in this situation if I had better mentor(s). And it's relevant so I'm going to write about that again here.
Basically, my "mentor" is a great mentor to some people in the lab.
But not others.
My impression is that there are not very many really great mentors out there, because it's all about having the right match. I think I've written this here before, but I'll write it again: nobody is a great mentor to everyone.
And here's another Newsflash: just because someone has had a few people come out of their lab and get jobs, does NOT mean they are a good mentor.
In larger labs, the PI is much too busy to mentor everyone. So the favorites get the mentoring, and the rest get to wait.
If we complain, we're told to be patient.
If the PI should realize later that they dropped the ball, at most we get a mumbled apology.
Yeah, how many years of my life can I get back with a mumbled apology?
I'll tell you: NONE.
How many career chances does a person get in science? Not many. If a cat has 9 lives, I think I'm on my last one.
And then comes the blame. It's all too easy for the busy PI to say, after they've dropped the ball, that we should have complained more (Um, you lectured me on how I have to be patient???).
It really is like battered wife syndrome. In more ways than one.
One of the things that really made me cry yesterday was that in my effort to figure out why the thought of quitting makes me cry, I read an interview with Liz Blackburn where she was saying "because science is worth it".
In that same article, she was saying how she was (like most women of her generation, Nancy Hopkins is a great example of someone who always says this) basically oblivious to sexism when she was younger, and how she thinks that's one of the big reasons she got through.
She said her mentees are very discouraged by it.
She also said the postdoc associations have been very helpful for her mentees, which made me laugh.
While they have been somewhat of a crutch for me at times when I thought that was all I needed, none of that can really solve my fundamental problems.
If anything, I see postdoc associations as a symptom of just how broken the system has become, that the postdocs have to organize ourselves because nobody else really gives a damn what happens to most of us.
And here we are, still trying to be naive and optimistic that we can fix anything by, what, taking care of our training ourselves because our PIs won't do it?
Probably we should be marching in the streets, but that's never going to happen, and even if it did, it's hard to believe anybody would care.
50,000 whiny PhDs? Oh please.
So today I have some Important Things To Do at the bench, but I'm really not in the mood to do anything, because of this overwhelming sense that nothing I do really matters, no matter how good it is, no matter how right I am, I will always be screwed over.
And none of it really matters, as far as I'm concerned I've done the experiments that really tested my hypothesis, and they worked, and I'm right.
So who cares if anybody else ever knows about it?
Who cares, indeed.
Lately one of my big hangups is that if I leave, my PI will probably take my project and claim it as an original idea.
A few people might know that it was mine, but they'll forget.
If I leave, nobody in my field or my family will try to stop me. Nobody will say,
But you have to publish that groundbreaking work!
My friends have been saying it for a while, but I think at this point they realize that, as one friend put it, staying in science is killing me.
She was being hyperbolic of course, I'm eating and sleeping and not any more depressed than I've always been.
I'm just having a hard time remembering what I'm doing this for. At one point, I actually cared about having something to prove, and proving it, because I thought I could convince people.
I think I'm over that fantasy now. You can lead a dead horse to water and beat it as hard as you want, but it still won't drink.
*although I'm pretty sure neither of my experiments worked