Monday, November 24, 2008

You're closer than you think.

Yesterday I had this thought, how sometimes you feel like you're miles from getting something to work and then BANG! You're there. It's done.

And you think, wow, I almost gave up before I got here! Good thing I didn't quit!

I think this should be my new mantra for the whole job thing.

Maybe it's not impossible. Maybe this is just the part where you're falling, and you think you're going to be smashed on the sidewalk but you're actually only an inch away.

Either way, hitting bottom would be better than free fall, I think.

I was also thinking about this because I've been watching some of my grad student friends and how they manage their priorities.

One does everything way in advance. She's always asking for help, but not before doing her homework and figuring out as much as she can on her own first. And she asks good questions.

Another has been procrastinating this week about her qualifying exam, all the while saying she's going to be destroyed by one of her committee members who always gives her a hard time. And yet, she's not asking for help.

A third sent me a thesis chapter to edit last week... the day before it was due to his committee. Two weeks before his defense.

I mean, come on. It's not like you didn't know you were going to have to write a thesis, let's see .... at least 5 years ago!

So while I'm watching the CNN headline "Bottom line of hopelessness", I'm thinking, yeah, I've been trying to plan ahead. I've been getting closer. I still feel like I'm a million miles away from where I want to be with my career.

But maybe I'm closer than I thought. Maybe a few more months, in the rear view mirror, won't seem like much at all?

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At 12:34 PM, Blogger Neuropharma said...

The other day I was looking for motivational quotes online (I was feeling really down) and I came across these:

“The last dejected effort often becomes the winning stroke.” ~W. J. Camero

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~Thomas Edison

But as you said, sometimes I just don't know how long I should keep trying. Will I ever reach the "real" bottom where I would definitely know that it's not going to get any better so I just stop and try another way?

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

ACK!! People like your third example drive me nuts! I had a former coworker send me a thesis chapter the day before it was due WITHOUT FIGURES. Who the heck writes a chapter without figures? I was so annoyed.

I believe he filed for an extension, but I really don't want to ask!

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reassuring thoughts - thanks I needed that.

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous jodi said...

Grad students who wait until the last minute and then frantically want "help" with their thesis or dissertation prep...I just don't understand. A thesis is one of the few things in life that you actually have the luxury of planning for well in advance AND to some degree schedule on your own time. I do realize that sometimes faculty pressure or funding pressure must be factored in as well but for the most part even with these external pressures it is still rarely totally unpredictable. Other things in life truly blindside you - your grant funding is suddenly cut off, your company suddenly announces lay offs or reorganization and you get two weeks those situations I can understand the frantic scrambling. But for a thesis?? makes me wonder how such grad students will handle the beyond-school world and the real curve balls that life throws at them.

as a postdoc I was ordered to "help" a certain grad student who always procrastinated and then at the last minute would in a panic demand I drop everything to help him because the deadline for abstract submission is tomorrow, or his advisor is leaving town and needs an update by tonight. Um, no. As they say, lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!

At 9:10 AM, Blogger EcoGeoFemme said...

Let's hope!

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


I think those are good quotes.

It's funny, usually with experiments there is more than one way, so even if your first approach is failing miserably, eventually you will come back around to some other way if you're just following, you know, Truth.

What I can't say is, have we as postdocs hit bottom yet? Has my career hit bottom yet? Is it defined by how miserable you are (probably)? Can I get any miserabler than I am already? It seems that I always can.


Same for this one. I left that part out. I guess he felt confident about his figures, or something, but not his text.

Anon 5:20,

Glad it helped!


Amen. Especially the last sentence. I have to remember that one.


I did. That was yesterday. See next dejected effort and file under "Have we hit bottom yet?"

At 10:54 PM, Blogger loskova // accidental scientist said...

I am glad you didn't quit too!

Last summer I attended a two week long "summer school" for female scientists in Europe. It had many workshops to help with empowering the attendees (as we females sometimes do not have comparable levels of confidence as males) and with career building.

In one session we learned about the factors that were common in the women who "made it".

One of these common features was perseverance.

I wish you a lot of perseverance in your future career! It is necessary. And let's be honest here - you are going to need it.


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