I don’t know.

I don’t know how to program a computer. I don’t know math as well as I should. I don’t speak another language. I don’t know a lot. I apparently lack everything needed to succeed in the 21st century in science according to several prominent scientists I’ve heard speak over the last few years as well as read in various articles/blogs. I suppose, like most people, I’m going to work hard and do my best to get by. It’s a little discouraging to keep hearing “molecular biology is over”, “only do applied science”, “model organisms? Those won’t be funded any more”, “If you’re not doing systems biology, you can’t succeed” etc. I know the world’s full of these challenges and I’m trying to stay positive about my prospects. At the same time, I’ve been delaying any sort of gratification- sacrificing a fair bit (life, for instance- what’s a weekend? I am not familiar with the concept) to do science. The one good argument for keeping the tenure system around is that scientists have toiled so long and hard, dealt with rejection after rejection after rejection with few positives (when achievements come, it’s like they don’t matter, you’re onto the next thing already and can’t take a moment to appreciate them) that when tenure is achieved (seems like a virtual impossibility for me right now), we’ve earned a break. That doesn’t mean I’d get lazy exactly, but certainly things need to get less intense at some point. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Science is amazing. The business of science is BRUTAL. I’ve stopped beating myself up so much for the times I screw up in the lab (everyone does), I am relaxing a bit more and I think it’s keeping me more motivated to keep working. But I am still not sure what direction my career is going to take and that’s scary to me right now. It’s hard for me to see a direction or goal I’m working toward. I guess the best thing I can do is keep learning, trying and never stop exploring. But I don’t know.

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Author: Ian Street

Ian is a plant scientist and science writer relating stories of plant science and scientists on his blog, The Quiet Branches as well as other outlets. You can find him on Twitter @IHStreet.

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