Getting out.

Something that’s on my mind lately is just how sticky science is, especially when you’re frustrated by a lack of success in the lab. There’s a reason it’s called research, of course, there are no guarantees that experiments will work out or go well. Since I still have too much of my identity wrapped up in science, setbacks hit me hard. But especially now. A postdoc is supposed to be a limited time to set yourself up for future success. Right now, I feel like I’ve failed in that goal. I can, however, tell anyone exactly what not to do (including myself, lately, so that’s a positive). And would happily do so. So I’m in this strange position of being at a point to move on, but also still wanting to show that I can do good work and prove myself (publication is all that counts, really; any teaching, mentoring or helping colleagues with their work doesn’t really qualify as ‘science’). But I still feel stuck by it all. 

Though I am trying a new strategy of interacting more and trying not to worry so much. Also, I’m starting to lean on friends and colleagues to help me raise my game and keep my accountable. 
Tips on being a postdoc 1. Don’t get clinically depressed 2. Don’t isolate yourself (number one will make you do that, btw) 3. Ask lots of questions and don’t be a perfectionist (number one will make you afraid of being anything but perfect and feeling like you aren’t worthwhile). 4. Do things besides science. Find something outside the lab you love to do. It will keep you sane and balanced. 
Otherwise, you might just feel stuck. 
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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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