The long haul



I think one of the hardest things about working in science is that it is supposed to be all-encompassing. I’ve written about this briefly before, but when you’re a scientist, you are a scientist.

I’ve been working full-time as a postdoc at the University of British Columbia for almost 5 months now, and I could not be happier. The team I am working with are amazing, I’m finding the field more interesting than I even anticipated, and I have complete control over my projects.

Scaling up from the PhD is difficult. I’m trying to push myself to think about the big questions I want to answer, and design 5 year projects that can make a tiny dent in the problem. So I’m consistently finding myself daunted. It feels sometimes like I need to do everything at once!

Which I can’t, even if I wanted to. And I don’t want to. Life outside the lab is good. I’m engaged, now, and we sit on the couch and laugh, and take our dog for a walk. Today we caught the last bit of snow on the Vancouver mountains, and it was glorious.

So it’s a vicious cycle. I feel like I should be doing everything, but I don’t want to do everything, because I need to nurture my life outside the lab, which makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, which… well, you get the idea.

I need to remember that the best that anyone can do is make a plan, and follow it through one step at a time. Nothing was ever gained by worrying about the problems that are 10 steps down the line from what I’m working on at this moment. I need to keep checking up on the future, making sure it’s still there, but if I’m not waist-deep in the present then it’ll steam-roll me when it finally arrives.

Anyway, enough introspection. I’m back to regular programming next week.



– J