23 May 2009

The ups and downs

At the risk of being a total downer, I am going to take a few paragraphs and contemplate the process that is science. I struggle with the public availability of revelations like this entry, as my blog is linked to mypersonal/professional website that is included on my business cards. Although I tend to drift away from blogs that focus almost entirely on the negativity associated with science, I think grad students do a great disservice to each other by not attempting to share and discuss movement through the ups and downs of graduate work.

I call it a process because, especially as a graduate student learning the ropes of scientific inquiry, publication, and grant writing, I am exceptionally cognizant of the stages of developing a scientific idea. At this moment, though, I can't help but feel that is the only thing about which I am currently exceptional.

E-mails and writing from the past few days have revealed a number of mild to serious stabs to my self-confidence. I am trying to write a manuscript that (I swear) will never end. I have been turned down for some funding opportunities. And I'm trying to reconcile all of this input with the looming prospect of a teaching assistantship that starts next fall, graduate student peers that are excelling where I am failing, and worst of all, imminent graduate in December of 2010. Yes, that's a long way away, but that's the trick about my PhD education thus far...I spent a lot of time early on taking classes, feeling out a research project, and setting up a lab. I never imagined being the first grad student would be this tough...four years in and I'm still the youngest person by age in the lab besides the undergrads. 

Before I completely divert this musing to a pity-party starring ME, I'll close with a reminder to myself to redirect this sadness and self-loathing to motivation to prove my grant reviewers wrong...this project is not overly ambitious. I do have a firm grasp on the techniques and theory about which I will study. Go write some papers, Kate. My personal motto, that I need to recall again:

Shit or get off the pot.

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