I’m still somewhat new to the blogging world and am so excited to find out about blog carnivals!! The theme for this month’s Scientiae Carnival, graciously hosted by Amanda at A Lady Scientist, is continuity, a seemingly difficult topic for many scientists, whose lives feel quite tumultuous and nomadic at times. In this spirit, I submitted the following post, published a few weeks ago, about the changes I have experienced as a scientist:
So I realize how lucky I’ve been…the labs I’ve worked in have always been full of fun, social and good people. You know, the kind that make “work” feel more like “play”. Even when the data has been crappy and I’ve felt overworked, underpaid, and completely stressed, my labmates have always found ways to make me laugh, sometimes throughout the entire day. Not that we haven’t crossed a few lines, but I’ll leave that topic for another day…
Right now, however, it’s starting to get eerily quiet in our lab. In the past year we’ve had one grad student (a close friend of mine) graduate, and two postdocs leave to start “real jobs”. And, by the end of the year, we’ll have another grad student, also a good friend, graduating. I know this is the way of a lab. People come and go – sometimes the change is refreshing, sometimes it’s painful. And I’ve certainly seen my share of lab evolution throughout the 10 years I’ve been in science. It’s just how things are. But this time it feels different…I think for a couple of reasons. One, my mentor is pretty close to retirement – not immediate, but possibly within the next 5-6 years. So our lab is beginning the inevitable dénouement that eventually overtakes all labs.
Secondly, I’m changing. In the past year I’ve gotten married, started planning a family, and begun to look and prepare for faculty jobs. I rarely participate in the now-infrequent lab banter, mostly because I’m just not around as much. Between helping out with my mentor’s med school classes, grant and manuscript writing, and job app preparation, I’ve found myself managing a finely-tuned balance between bench work and “other stuff”. I can’t help but feel I’m teetering at the edge of an old lab, which, in the next five years, may not exist anymore. And looking out in front of me (*gulp*) is the prospect of my own new lab, job market willing.
So what to do? Well, I have fun with my current labmates when I can, and try to not think too far ahead. My job and the funding that supports it are safe for now, so no need to hurry. I’ll take advantage of the somewhat carefree time that I currently enjoy, while I can.
Planning is all well and good, but not if I lose the present while obsessing about the future.