Monday, November 03, 2008

If only, part 2.

So here's the funny part.

Felt like crying all day but did not. As usual, after our last meeting, instead of letting me do everything, Advisor insisted on doing something... and did not do it. I was pissed about this happening again. Among other things.

Finally sucked it up and went to see Advisor, promising self I would not cry. And I didn't. Go, self. (minor victory)

I think I do better when I'm angry.

After all the talk about mentoring, Advisor's big advice?

I don't know what you should do. It's really up to you.

Something must have changed since last time we talked, because every. single. time. before when I said "I want to do X" the answer was always Very Anti.

Now? Advisor seems worn down.

It reminds me of how my parents were:

with me (very Anti)
with my little sister ("whatever you want, go ahead").

So actually, despite the total lack of, ha ha, mentoring, I think I'm calling it a minor victory.

And despite the unbelievably bad timing of, well, everything in my career, this might actually be an example where I can take advantage of the timing. Advisor could have stayed Very Anti for another year, and that would be worse than this.

Now I will try to fail my way, maybe?

Except with Advisor's name on the paper, that's supposed to help?

I've been at "I don't know" for a while now. I think now I'm back at "Ask around again". We'll see if anyone will get back to me, or if, since the people I need to ask are all faculty, they'll also just ignore me.

And still funny to me, in the process of getting to where I wanted to be, I've been so worn down for so long, I'm not sure I have anything left to drag across the finish line.

It's like those commercials for the Olympics this year when they showed that one guy who had an injury and two people ran down to the track to help him limp to the end. I don't really have anybody like that, but I'll try to ask.

And if that doesn't work, maybe I'll just lay on the ground and laugh.

The person who commented that nothing seems to have changed in 2-3 years is mostly right. Except for one thing: I'm wayyyyy more burned out than I ever thought a person could possibly be. I thought I was completely burned out already back then! Boy was I wrong. There are so many levels to down.

So I guess my goal is that between me and Advisor, if I get to drive, and Advisor is willing to keep me company but basically be a passenger, we might get farther than when I'm bound and gagged in the trunk?

Or maybe instead of me being the puppet, I can write the script and Advisor will read it like a newscaster?

Oh, if only it were going to be that easy.

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At 8:43 PM, Blogger physicienne said...

i hope you get to drive! - that analogy made me laugh.

i've been reading for a while. i'm a new grad student and don't have advice, but it'd be great to see you try to start your own lab - and succeed! if you didn't, for some reason, they you could at least say you'd gone as far as you could, even if there might still be a ton of 'if only's. i don't know which would be 'better', though, leaving now or later. it's a precarious mix of optimism and realism.

good luck.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger sara said...

There's a continuum of Independent Thought in researchers (specifically trainees). It seems some students come into grad school and just do whatever projects their advisors throw at them, never really thinking about the bigger picture. And there are other students who have a goal in mind and try to piece it together. For example, I know a guy who wants to work on imaging the brain with better resolution, so that we have an actual map of the brain, structure and function. So he's working in a lab using the techniques he thinks are most promising, but working on other systems, and then he'll work in a neuroscience lab, and eventually piece the projects together. As far as I can tell, no one else is doing that work.

I think the more independent-thinking students/researchers with their own goals are doing better Science, but they seem to have a harder time of it. Grand projects don't seem as well funded as small baby steps.

And what really gets me is that, while I apply to schools, it seems that being a more independent-minded researcher is what the schools are looking for. But I guess, you shouldn't be too independent-thinking. It's tricky.

I have to say though, I'm really intrigued about what you're studying.

It seems like a huge problem for you is the funding crunch. If you could get your project funded independently, it seems you would have fewer issues trying to do it.

At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2:58 PM, Blogger sciencetron said...

I hate the days where I feel like crying all the time!
I suppose congratulations are in order for the minor victories and for wearing your advisor down. It's heartbreaking that these are the things we win!

I also wanted to mention that I've been reading for a while and have started a new blog that has a link to yours. I hope this is all right- I have no idea what the etiquette is here, so I thought I should let you know.

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know your pain.

If it makes you feel any better... you could be young, female, a postdoc on the "B track" in the lab, and just diagnosed with a massive ovarian tumor... all the while living in a foreign country.

It's a tough game.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

Jeez. I hope your week has gotten better.


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