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post epiphany
2004-05-01

for a while know i have recognised that i have felt unhappy, but i thought it was loneliness. i am living in a city that i donít like, i donít have any friends here and i figured that if i just worked that would fill the void. the only reason i came here, to the us, was for work, so all my energies went into that. i knew i was never going to be an academic, or have my own lab, iím not smart enough for that and while science has always interested me i am not passionate about it. i am a hard worker and that helped me get through. i remember in 8th grade when first term report cards were given out. i got a c, from aís the previous year to a c. i didnít know what i had done differently from the last year, but i worked hard and by the end of the year i got an a. from that moment i knew i was going to study science. it was clear to me that if you worked hard you could make it. so i studied science for my final years at school, went to university and studied science and after undergrad, did an honours year that introduced me to working in a lab. i loved it. i felt like a pioneer, i was making observations that nobody else had seen. if you asked me how my work was going i would talk your ear off. i received the second highest score for my honours thesis that year and i received 3 phd scholarship offers. there was no question, i was going to do a phd. i received my phd, and did quite well. i won a fellowship that allowed me to work in the us for a year and my thesis made the deans commendation list for outstanding doctoral theses. my one year stint in the us had established contacts and i was offered a postdoc position a year and a half away from my completion date. i kind of felt like the golden girl. i certainly wasnít the smartest phd candidate, but i worked hard and loved what i did. so i moved to the us to start the next phase.

i work for a very smart man. he had just received his first grant, a promotion and now was the head of his own laboratory. my learning curve was off the scale. i felt energized and wanted to prove to myself that i was able to do this and i wanted to prove to my boss that waiting a year and a half for me wasnít in vain. all i did was work. 12, 14 hour days were the norm, weekends were spent in the lab and itís what i wanted, i wanted to succeed. two years after starting this job it is a struggle to stay at work for the requisite 8 hours. my research has slowed down. i feel like i am not making any progress and i feel like i am letting my boss down. he encouraged me to apply for my own funding. i was awarded the 2 year fellowship, this meant that i was to stay here for another 2 years. another 2 long years and now there was even more pressure on me to produce something. i would be getting money from an external, private funding source that required accountability, in my field that means research papers. the problem is i have no motivation, science isnít a career anymore itís just a job that i am doing, and not very well. so the other day when i made the firm decision that i was going to go home after the fellowship was up i felt a little lighter, i got a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. i then spent most of the night reading almost all of alex the girls entries.

the next day i woke up and wanted to shoot the chirping birds, i woke up feeling impotent. i still had 2 years here, i still felt like i was failing myself and my boss. birmingham boy pointed out that i may be too loyal to my boss and asked if he would remain unhappy for me, that maybe i should just pack up and leave now. but i canít, yes, partly because of the loyalty i feel to my boss and my job, a job that is making me feel worthless and a failure, partly because i will having nothing to show for my time here if i go back home and decide to stay in science and partly because i moved here to do this science thing, i couldnít go back home and face family and friends a dropout. i know they wouldnít see me this way, but i guess iím stubborn and figure if i stick it out, i will regain some motivation and get something out of my experience, namely research papers, something to show for my time here. i have spent all of my adult life studying science, i am yet to have a first author paper published.

i donít know what i am going to do when i return home, whether i will get another postdoc position, or whether i will stay in science but go into the biotech field, a huge attraction because of the money. i mean if i stay in science i may as well get paid a lot better than a lowly postdoc salary. or i may decide to quite science all together and do something else, but the question is what? since 8th grade i knew i wanted to science, now that the passion is not there what else am i passionate about? i donít know, and i wonít know anytime soon while i am struggling in a job that i donít like but that will take all my energy and effort for the next two years.

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