Monday, June 01, 2009

Response to comments on last post

Thanks to Blogger's idiocy, I'm not even going to try to reply in the comment box.

Anon 3:03,

Actually, I started therapy hoping it would help me figure out how not to sabotage myself with my tendency to get too depressed to function. My therapist rejected that as a concept from the outset, but I actually kind of think she was wrong about that.

re: being poor, I know because my therapist sometimes gives examples from her own life, and she hasn't for this. I also know a bit about how her business works and I'm pretty sure she's doing just fine.

GP,

Ha. Yeah, my last session was like she was trying to mirror my feelings by repeating back to me basically exactly what I was saying, and I was saying, "YES, NOW TELL ME SOMETHING I DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW."

I don't think I need someone to help me narrate.

Lou- I think she is trying to listen, but yeah I think that is part of the problem. And I did tell her that I don't feel completely heard.

Alicia- Great analogy. I do think that's part of the problem, the race-car mentality is just so not me.

But don't you worry that it's mostly because it's such a boys' club? Isn't that infuriating?

Anon 7:18- Great point about how even the good parts pass.

I have felt like you describe, "Oh yes I do have skills" but I think the problem for me is that I feel like every time I start working with new people they assume I am an idiot and consistently undervalue my work for a long time.

Every time it is an uphill battle to get them to look past my appearance as female, etc. and pay attention to what I am SAYING and DOING and just LOOK AT MY DATA.

Eventually they (usually) come around, but in the process I have been burning the candle at both ends. One end is doing the science, the other is holding the sword.

And sometimes- rarely, in recent years- I just get really pissed off and give them a piece of my mind. And that always backfires.

Anon 11:31- Good point. I think right now the devastation of the dream ending is still worse than the potential relief. Hence the hesitation.

bsci- Yes. But as a scientist I feel like it's hard to know until I try something, how much I will actually like it. And if I stay where I am, I can't really do the experiment, can I?

chall- I agree, it gets harder as we get older.

I am kind of taking the route of looking to apply for Those Jobs and
maybe do some interviews and see what seems exciting. Maybe I will receive one of those shiny over-the-head lightbulbs I've heard the universe sometimes sends?

Anon 8:42- You sound like my therapist. She is also of the opinion that even if it worked out somehow, I probably wouldn't be happy, because it won't be worth all of this misery.

thinkerbell- by coach you mean what exactly? I tried paying someone to advise me on job apps a few years ago, and it was an enormous waste of money. Would not go that route again.

also, postdocs are not eligible for career center services at my Uni. Great idea though. Maybe you could tell the administration for me? 'K, thx.

I have thought about other kinds of jobs, a lot. But I don't know enough about what the reality would be for me, with my current skills, etc. to try to get a job I would actually enjoy. Most things, it seems, involve a period of suffering before you get to do the good parts?

rocketscientista- hold onto that optimism. i wish i still had mine.

psycgirl- I did tell her, a couple of sessions ago.

Anon 9:34- It's funny you should say that, since it's my instinct too that it's better to decide and move on.

My therapist has been trying to encourage me to take more time deciding, which I think is helpful in a way but also makes it harder- sometimes it's just a prolonged period of second-guessing back and forth, right? She likes to say that it's important not to just be "reactive" and try to jump on the first safe thing that comes along, which she is sort of accusing me of having done in the past (as if I didn't solicit advice and do my homework before making the choices I've made). I'm not really sure if I agree that choosing from what's available to you in a short time frame, armed with as much information as you can gather, should be labeled as "reactive".

It doesn't really make sense to me since part of my problem is that I am already blaming myself enough when I am depressed- that is essentially the definition. how did I get myself into this mess. But the truth is, it doesn't make me feel better to have her go back and label my choices as bad decisions- if anything it makes me feel even less confident that I can make good ones now, no matter how long I deliberate.

Interesting point about system vs. daily tasks. As many others have said, a big aspect is that it's in large part my current toxic environment that is the problem. I have definitely been in situations where the daily tasks were a joy, but not here, not for a while. When even the daily tasks are an uphill battle, and you have no control over that, that's when I really want to get out.

I have always hated the system.

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11 Comments:

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Alicia M Prater said...

I definitely understand concerns over it being a boys' club, and that is part of the problem. But I also think there are other problems with how science is done, from funding to tenure, that are also contributing. The most troubling aspect is the sexism that is still present, but it's just one step I think.

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Actually, I started therapy hoping it would help me figure out how not to sabotage myself with my tendency to get too depressed to function."

Is this the problem, or is it academics? If the problem is self-sabotage, then that will follow you (I have a passing familiarity...). If it's the academics/science/the system of doing the science, then perhaps getting out and do something that doesn't make you miserable makes sense.

Does walking away from academia freak you out because it's losing who you are, or because the alternatives are scary? I just did this "exercise" recently in a fit of pique; the message clearly was I'd be losing an integral part of who I am if I walked away.

 
At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think you're superior to everyone else, why would your therapist be an exception. You're really messed up. I feel sorry for you.

 
At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My therapist has been trying to encourage me to take more time deciding, which I think is helpful in a way but also makes it harder- sometimes it's just a prolonged period of second-guessing back and forth, right? She likes to say that it's important not to just be "reactive" and try to jump on the first safe thing that comes along, which she is sort of accusing me of having done in the past (as if I didn't solicit advice and do my homework before making the choices I've made). I'm not really sure if I agree that choosing from what's available to you in a short time frame, armed with as much information as you can gather, should be labeled as "reactive".

No it's not being 'reactive'. Windows of opportunity don't stay open forever so we can only make the best decisions possible with whatever data we have at the time even though it may be incomplete or turn out to be wrong. I don't regret decisions I've made that have turned out to be a mistake on hindsight. Don't be hard on yourself for not having had a crystal ball.

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous thinkerbell said...

There has got to be some place where you can do a career assessment test, you can even do them online, e.g. at http://www.thebeehive.org/jobs/career-coach/discover-career/online-career-test or http://www.assessment.com/.
If you pay a bit of money you get the full results, definitely something I would do if I really didn't know what to do. Who knows what you might find. I also know though that I would never just quit my current job without knowing what I'd do next. Some people are just not wired that way.

 
At 11:49 PM, Blogger Helen Huntingdon said...

The remark about not needing help narrating cracked me up. That's why therapy always struck me as a supremely useless activity.

I do realize now that some people actually do need help finding words for what they feel. Which is fine for those that need it, but an utter waste of time for those that don't.

 
At 3:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this is going to be helpful, but I made a pretty big career change a few years ago and actually went back to get a PhD and go INTO science.

I was absolutely miserable at my rather well-paid job and ended up taking a very substantial pay cut.

In order to make my decision, I worked with a career counselor - which I found very helpful. She had me take lots of aptitude tests, surveys and other tests. I even had a set of interview questions to interview people that knew me and then people in the science profession that I was thinking of changing to.

Basically, I gave myself a year to either decide what change to make and how to make it, or to decide to be happy with what I was doing. I found my self-imposed deadline made that time much easier, and in the end, I did make a change.

Having someone help me focus and making a positive decision on WHAT to do really helped me.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

 
At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where to put this comment, so I'll put it here so it might get seen/responded to.

I think the idea that people are 'pulling the ladder up behind them' is based on a faulty assumption. The assumption you are making is that there is a ladder.

I don't think there is a ladder. This would explain why no one can convey transferable (ie, helpful) information about how they got their first job. They believe that their experience was what got them the job. I doubt it. It would also explain why it takes 100+ applications to get 2-3 interviews and maybe 1 offer for most people I know.

So what are we left with. A ceiling and quantum tunneling. There is a small but statistically real chance that you will find yourself on the other side of the ceiling. The only 'control' you have is your behavior when you are close to the ceiling. The more frequently and energetically you crash into the barrier, the more likely you are to (seemingly miraculously) end up on the other side.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger JaneB said...

re: careers centre: I am still entitled to use the one of the university that I got my PhD from - are you? They might be able to give you access to online tests or something like that.

Coaching might be useful because it's about making plans and moving forward and helping you to take action, rather than feelings, but you might need to look for a coach with academic/relavant industry experience - and all this looking for help stuff is bloody hard when you're struggling just to get through the day, isn't it?

I would definitely second the 'impose a deadline' idea, it helped me hugely during the most difficult patch of my career so far... just knowing that the trying would end helped me keep going if that makes any sense

 
At 7:51 AM, Blogger scicurious said...

Anon @ 4:30: I really hope you're not as horrible a person in real life as you appear to be on the internet.

And now on to my real comment:
A lot of people spend a lot of time in grad school questioning why the hell they went. I know I do. I also know that a lot of people in grad school spend a lot of time looking for alternate careers and feeling hopeless that there's not anything out there. This is NOT TRUE. I think many of us just aren't exposed to all that there is out there.

I went through a period much like this (I STILL go through periods like this), and I actually got a few books on alternate careers in science, the stuff you can do with the PhD that doesn't necessarily involve the burning-the-candle-at-both-ends mentality. I'm not pursuing those options right now, but it was a HUGE comfort just to know that they were there. After all, if there's only one faculty position for every 10 PhDs, the other nine must go somewhere.

re: your therapist. That's up to you. Perhaps when you get into your new digs you can shop around for someone that you really connect with? It sounds like maybe you and your therapist might not be the best match. A really good therapist can certainly do a lot to help.

 
At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

scicurious could you recommend some of those books you read? I searched your blog if you maybe posted on it there, but could not find any info.

It would be useful for all reading here if you thrown us some refs :-)

 

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