I study plants. Sessile organisms that grow in a particular environment. They put down roots and develop in the most optimal way for their environmental conditions. 

In graduate school, I had a joke about how various PIs showed characteristics of the organisms they studied. The Drosophila PI flitted about like a tiny fly would, the C. elegans lecturers were like the nematodes they studied…most boring lecturers ever. the lecturuers who worked on mice were very mouse-like. Is your PI like the model organism they work on? Since I haven’t spent a lot of time with yeast, I’m not exactly sure how a human would be Yeast-like, but I’m sure they’re out there. 

Now I’m wondering if I’m a plant. I do seem to be rooted in place, and worst, I’m a plant that hasn’t been allowed to grow. I’m like a severe mutant, impaired in some way trying to figure out how to ‘make it’- and hopefully I can live out a normal life. 

I’m also still trying to find the sun so I can thrive. I don’t think I’m in the optimal environment, but any plant that grows in a marginal place must adapt to that, whereas an animal can get up and walk away.

I can walk. And run. But I still feel rooted in place. And stuck. Some of it I’m sure is this, the ultimate career pressure to succeed and I just haven’t performed. They aren’t the conditions for me to best succeed. I’m not sure what conditions are best for me, but certainly not one where perfectionism is a default option. 

Growth has been on my mind a lot this year (look at past posts, that I’m still not good at citing within my blog- I’m still an amateur when it comes to this interwebs stuff). 

I think I’m doing better at pushing my comfort zone, though I don’t see much magic happening. Maybe it’s starting. I am a lot more curious again than I used to be. Things actually interest me again; which wasn’t really the case a year ago, though apathy is still all too present in my life. I did raise $343 for the local cancer center a few weeks ago, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever done before, so I am proud of that. In some ways, I am waking up again and actually living rather than just coasting through like a zombie. 

Is it enough? I don’t think so. Not yet. I still have a lot to work towards, and need to get more organized. about everything and set my goals to be achievable and accountable. I am expressing myself more and am more accepting of who I am (introverted is my most prominent personality trait). 

I have applied for some jobs this year, none of which I’ll get, but I did it anyway. I think I understand networking a lot better now, even if I’m not that good at it still. 

I will have made 3 batches of beer this year as well. 

Signs of growth? I sure hope so. Am I a plant who will make it to a new environment? Or do I get to truly launch Ian3.0 this year? I don’t know, but maybe I took a few steps towards that.

So the growth continues. Hopefully I nurture myself well enough to thrive in the near future.


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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