A friend of mine told me of my post on self talk was a little bit short on the future part of how I will eventually talk to myself.

And this isn’t the only case where I have trouble envisioning a future. One that sees me succeeding and achieving goals, having relationship(s) and other things. I just don’t have a good head for that sort of thing- for years I’ve told myself I don’t have a future and anything I do won’t matter, so why bother? So I am going to try and write a vision of my future covering the next 5 years.

What follows might be very stream of conscience kind of writing. Without further adieu, here comes the Ian3.0 manifesto. A quickly written, whatever comes out of my head manifesto (I can edit later…).

Year 1 (the present)

The first obvious thing is that I need to finish my postdoc and move someplace new doing something else that I can sink my teeth into. I will keep writing here, about science and my own life as I’m sure whatever I end up doing next, I will still have some science in my life. Who knows, I may need to change the name of the blog to whatever job title I have next (hopefully any future employer won’t mind me blogging in my own time). I have spent most of the last two years getting away from the black dog of depression (thank you Winston Churchill for that phrase). That has involved writing, doing things outside of the lab like this blog, making more eye contact with people and otherwise trying to make myself present.

Something I still struggle with is wanting to be small and off the radar. Attention freezes me and makes me want to crawl under the nearest rock. I don’t want to make waves. And I avoid conflict.

I also have a tendency to come off as ‘too serious’ a lot of the time. I try hard to lighten up (which might defeat the purpose). I say at least a few clever things on Twitter and Facebook and to friends (though that rarely happens in person).

I was at the coffee shop this morning reading and people watching as I do. There was a couple waiting for coffee. She was being a little affectionate…leaning against him a bit…pretending to wrap her leg around his and lining up their feet so that they were touching. The guy just stood there the whole time, seemingly barely acknowledging her presence (they were facing away from me, so I missed half of what was going on). I just thought that if it were me, I’d have reciprocated some how. In some subtle way. Of course, I am kind of starved for human contact- so maybe he was being totally appropriate. 

I am putting a lot of time into using new organizational tools and just doing things without thinking about them too much. Action over fear. I keep repeating that to myself. I’m trying to embody it more. If things dont’ work, well, I can always try again or adapt or something like that. Particularly surrounding letting my feelings shine through and not be bottled up inside. Owning my current story. Moving to being more financially independent.

I’ll be going to a conference this summer. Maybe I’ll actually make some contacts that will help me in landing that next adventure. Or perhaps it will all be independent of that and I’ll truly find something else I’d like to do. I am nearly over my hesitation to market myself and maybe even to state what I think I can offer to a potential employer outright.

I am going to continue learning what I can when I can and hopefully actually enjoying my life again, whatever challenges may come my way.

Year 2

I’ll be off on a new adventure in a new job somewhere- I know I have it in me to do things in my career. Moving into a new city- that city part is pretty key- in a new area. For once, not being overwhelmed and shut down by a major change in my world. Perhaps on the road to feeling like I have a sustainable career for once in my life.

I’d like to think I’ll feel more a part of the world, fully interacting with it, engaging with most people I meet. Like I did today on a morning run with the local running club members. 

I hope my enthusiasm and personality shine through so others can see and that I’m ‘going big’ relative to where I was the year previously- and far beyond where I was 2-3 years previous. Have I learned anything new? I sure hope so.

This should be even further down the road of being more organized as I get involved in things and use the fantastic tools available for planning and organizing like Evernote, calendars, etc.

If I have moved somewhere new (I hope so), maybe I’ll have been on a date with a nice girl sometime somewhere- and we’ll have hit it off. And it’ll be nice because we live in the same city .

Where do I want to work? Lifehacker had this post about figuring out what you’re good at and I can say I largely agree. Of course it’s aimed at young people just starting out. I’m 35 and if you ask me what I’m good at, I don’t really have a good answer. It makes it hard to market myself. This post of research on the ‘superiority illusion’ suggests that people with depression tend to see themselves in the cold light of reality; average, flawed, not thinking we’re better than anyone at anything. I can definitely attest to the fact that that is the case. And I haven’t fully recovered an illusion of superiority in anything in my life. Other people are always better. I am getting back to feeling like I’m good at things in some ways- like I think I’ve gotten better at learning keyboard shortcuts, a little better at statistics, probably a better scientist in some ways, but it all feels minor in comparison to what is needed for a successful career. I think I’ve gotten better at writing as well. 

I want to have a vision, set some specific goals and achieve them. Preferable starting over with something fairly new that I can grow into- even if I am ‘old’ now.

I’d like to travel someplace new. That I’ve never been to before. Internationally? I’d like to go to Europe again.

I wish I was more optimistic, having the more ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go!’ kind of attitude.

Year 3

This is getting tricky. Projecting out this far is certainly not something i’ve ever really done in a serious way. I’m trying to do this seriously, but this is challenging for my mind. Seems more like fiction some how at this point. 

This is the year where I think I’ll be on a more sure footing. Financially, in life generally. Maybe I’ll have a kitchen table- something I’ve done without the last few years- I just don’t need one…though it does discourage me from inviting people over perhaps. I’m a weird person, that’s for sure.

I’d like to think that my scientific training is of some use in my career still and that I’m out taking risks in spite of myself. Perhaps I’m even a better- talented?– writer. Someone who’s truly confident in my abilities.

I hope I’ve conquered my fear of the phone; or my hesitancy to use it. I am working on this in the present, of course, and like eye contact and slowing down when I speak, I am making progress. 

Perhaps I’ll be even more accomplished in speaking in front of people/presenting/educating.

I’ll have a new hobby of some kind. Maybe I’ll finally get my ham radio license.

Year 4

This is the year I have been in what I can officially call a long term relationship- with that nice girl from year 2.

This may be being overly optimistic, a lot of this is seeming unlikely to my mind. But hte point of this exercise is to dream without limits. 

I’ll love my job in the private sector (probably- it seems unlikely I’ll be at a university still, perhaps that bubble will have burst) and have completed some sort of large project.

I’ll have time to spend with friends and still be writing things. What those will be, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps I’ll write about science more than I do now.

Year 5

I’ll get married (or be married)! I guess 40 isn’t such a bad time for that. Taking a plunge off the cliff into the deep end. Swimming amongst the stars. Reaching for the stratosphere. 5 years where good things happen to me- along with some downs, I’m sure. Maybe ‘Dr. Who’ will still be around.

And I’ll look forward to a 4th decade of life.

I know I’ll come back to this post and edit it as I think of things. Right now, my mind doesn’t feel like it’s very visionary, or expansive. Muscles I haven’t used in my mind in quite some time. I think stagnation in academia, depression and just living a limited life have dulled my senses, motivations and emotions. Just by trying to write this, though, I think they’re coming back.  More to come, I’m sure.



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.

2 thoughts on “Vision.”

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