Done with grad school and I am back

My last post was 1.5 years ago . A lot has changed since then. I graduated with a Ph.D., but only after applying to get an extension on my Ph.D. candidacy so that i would not have to retake my candidacy exam. So my biggest fear almost came true.  I even posted about it in June 2015. And it almost happened. I knew it would get ugly… and it did. But I was so close to graduating they gave me an extension. Otherwise i would have been humiliated. Although I have to say that what i went through was humiliating enough. I wish I had not let it get to the point it did.  But I  got past it and published a paper and graduated. I then got a job as a postdoc, and became a dad (best thing ever!). But I’m still stuck in the same old university I got my PhD from, just at a different lab (for personal reasons). 

Yup, it’s been 10 months since I got my PhD – 1 year since I defended my dissertation. (Wow… it’s been a YEAR?!) 

Anywho let’s get right to it… I am still depressed. I am not on medication anymore …. I have been seeing a different doctor – I can’t see my grad school doctor anymore since I am no longer a student . But I want to get back on medication . I have only been off for 4 months but it is starting to take a toll. 

Why? Well, because of several reasons :

  1. I don’t know what the next step will be in my career. For sure I cannot land a tenure track faculty position – those are insanely difficult to get. So what do I do? I feel like I have no transferable skills for a non academic position, despite what people tell me. Amd then there is the fear of what people might think of me if I do leave academia. I know they will take a jibe at me… to make me feel like shit… 
  2. To top it off, it has been 5 months in my new lab and I have NO data. None. The experiments have either not led to anything exciting or are not working for technical reasons. 
  3. I have become very cynical. I dislike people even more now. Not my family of course. Just… well, everyone else. I feel like I am defending myself against EVERYONE. And I am exhausted and drained. 
  4. Not sure what the heck is the meaning of all of this… so yeah… a bit of an existential crisis.
  5. My therapist keeps postponing our appointment. The last I saw her was 8 months ago. She says she has been having family emergencies but I think she is trying to avoid me. It’s bcoz I was late to my appointment a couple of times . I am sure that is the reason. She is probably just making excuses to not see me.

So yeah. I feel like shit again. So hello again peeps!!

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Misunderstood or a victim of ill treatment?

I am not mean to people, at least not deliberately. Then why is it that I get ridiculed, yelled at, or just downright made to feel like crap? I just want some respect and dignity. Seems that those two things are too much to ask. Banks will lend you money, rental companies will give you a car, heck stingers will even give you their spouse! But dignity and respect is something that everyone deserves, especially if they are nothing but nice to others. So perhaps I have unknowingly been a jerks myself. Perhaps I have been misunderstood. 

Ego trip

I try not to  take criticism personally, but when someone is clearly making an attack on your character, they are not trying to help you. They are on an ego trip. 

A mask I wear

A mask I wear, a mask I wear, 

Pretending to not be me, 

A mask I wear, a mask I wear, 

So that the world cannot see

Behind the veil

Is an empty shell

A soul waiting to become free

Avoid unsupportive people and respect yourself

Why am I bitter? Hmmm… let’s see. I grew up in a family that had high expectations of me academically, but did nothing to support me. In fact, my dad’s job made things worse because I changed 8 different schools by the time I was 16. I was always behind in the class because I would start school half way through the year. And what did I get for that? “I never imagined I would ever be the parent of a failure”. Or “why don’t you work hard and top the class like you did when you were in 3rd grade?”.

You would think as a grown up, having graduated through college with good grades and getting accepted into a Ph.D. program at one of the best schools in the world would make your parents support you. Nope. I was talking to them today about how I made an important discovery that supports previous findings from my research. And what did I get? “What difference does supporting your findings make if you haven’t even submitted your paper for publication?”

I think I have had it with unsupportive jerks in my life. If you are in the same boat, think of all of your accomplishments. Think of how far you have come on your own and be proud. As for me, I have achieved a great deal on my own. I have worked hard and come up with brilliant ideas that have taken me this far. Sure there is more to learn…. but I still deserve dignity and respect for who I have made myself.

And so do you.

Is this all my own fault?

I got ‘feedback’ from my boss a few days ago about the first draft of my research paper. It was not very nice. He has this way of making you feel like crap. He laughs at you, asks rhetorical questions and uses a condescending tone (for ex, ‘why the hell did you write that?’ or ‘you really think so? REALLY?!’). The idea of constructive criticism doesn’t exist with him. Everything is about how “YOU” did or did not do such and such. Perhaps I am overreacting. But the truth is that this situation is toxic. I have been in this lab for 6 years and not once have I really felt appreciated. I have heard the odd ‘good’ (perhaps three times) in the last 6 years. Otherwise, I have been at the receiving end of unending criticism.

The bosses’ wife has been nagging away at me for over a year to write the first draft of my paper. This woman has hinted that it was my own fault for being in grad school for this long. Maybe it is. Maybe it is because I was too naive to figure out how to do science. Guess whose job it is to teach students to move things along? The mentor’s. Heck, that’s what a mentor is supposed to do. It wasn’t until just 6 months ago that all of my data was discussed in front of the lab as a paper. Same goes for all of the other students who joined the lab at the same time as I did. Usually mentors push students to publish and they train them how. Instead, we were supposed to figure it out on our own.

I had not submitted the first draft of my paper to my boss for fear that it would be considered premature.  But I worked hard at this. And at the end my boss says “I re-wrote this whole passage here. I think you sent this to me prematurely and I don’t want to re-write the rest of it. So look at how I have written and write the rest of it (about 10 out of the 27 pages that I sent him) the way that I have.”

Maybe this is my own fault. Maybe I was supposed to be a stellar scientist when I joined the lab. Who wants a graduate student to be, I don’t know, a STUDENT?! The academe is looking for rockstar scientists to work in their labs for peanuts only to throw them out into a jobless world.