From ember to fire.

A few years ago, this was my life:

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Barely an ember, burning lowly and without much focus– or fuel– to move forward, to grow.

It’s gotten better:

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I seem to have a small fire going, that I’m trying to manage, working to get myself to my next career, trying to maintain momentum, identify fuel. It feels like a precarious time as I’m really trying to get to my next job, my new career. I’m trying to invest in myself more, even though that’s hard to do and to keep going. I don’t know why. But I am doing my best.

I hope I’m lighting a fire that will burn bright, but that seems like it’s not a guaranteed outcome. I’ll do my best to get there though. I hope, that with help- I hope I can better ask for things now, I’ll get there.

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It feels better to have some spark than none. But it’s felt like a long road to get here and I hope catching fire happens faster than reaching the small flame stage.

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Being serious.

A lot on my mind lately. Figuring out my career and life foremost among them.

I’ve been guest writing more. I had a post at the Research Whisperer a few weeks ago that seemed to do well about building a portfolio career and using that to try to transition into a new job. Partly gaining experience.

I did some guest science writing too, both for UK based websites/publications. One was a collaboration with my PI, and then other was for the UK Plant Sciences Federation on flowering time. I even emailed a flowering time scientist to get some quotes. That is pushing my comfort zone.

People have been passing job ads and opportunities along to as well, which is incredible and part of why I am so grateful to platforms like Twitter. Which brings me to the #seriousacademic hashtag after The Guardian posted a short piece from a grad student that could not see the value of social media and how it distracted from the real world in front of people as well as taking away focus from actual academic research.  

As much as I love Twitter, I never tell anyone they have to be on it. I also legitimize most uses of the platform…I suggest people start out just by listening in/following things they are interested in and checking in once in awhile. Finding things serendipitously can be great sometimes. And if you feel like responding/joining a discussion, then great.

My community is almost entirely online…I would love to have a more consistent real world community of people I see regularly, but that is part of why I need a new job in a new place, something new. I tried being a serious academic. After years of trying, I’ve concluded I’d rather be a serious something else– ideally in the writing/editing world where I can draw on my scientific skills as well.  

Twitter has been great for me to get my blog(s) out to the world…for those interested in plant science and my writing about mental health here. My goal has been to be a one person broader impact for the plant science community– Twitter is my way of giving back and it has fed back into my science in great ways too. I consider it education/outreach, though I also am writing about things I find interesting or am curious about. I’ve made genuine personal and professional connections because of Twitter. I hope I’ve contributed something and not just taken away.

I’d tell the “serious academic” grad student that building a network takes time, and if it’s all an in real life/email chain of networking and that works for them, then awesome. No social media needed. However, I think social media has made me a better scientist. It’s instilled a love of learning that I had lost. It’s opened my eyes to some things, like inclusion/diversity. I really want to learn new things and do better science, and live up to the amazing things I hear about people doing on Twitter every day.

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Something that becomes more possible when you take your ideas seriously and have a community  as a backdrop to accomplish your goal. 

I try to be a supportive ear and celebrator of successes and pitch in when opportunities arise to do something specific that I can do (organizing a conference panel for instance). Or being a digital media coordinator for the conference I attend most years. Trying to stay on top of Twitter activity at a >1,000 person conference is hard, and I do think is valuable as a record of the conference. Twitter is a good way for me to take notes and to listen to a talk as well, but there is definitely a balance to be struck with attention and tweeting– however, Twitter really shines as a 6th sense at conferences and as a networking tool. More people visit posters that presenters tweet about.

That said, lately, I’ve felt really exhausted. Everything seems to take gargantuan effort and little feels light anymore. Some of that is taking on more ambitious projects, and trying to make things better than I’ve done before. Some, though, I fear is feeling burned out with all the extracurricular things I’ve been doing to try and figure out what’s next. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong? It’s hard for me to know.

Last, Serious academic reminded me of this essay by Sarah Cooper on Medium about why taking your ideas seriously is important. Like her, I didn’t take my ideas seriously for years. Starting my blogs, engaging on Twitter, discussing real things there, has gotten me to take my ideas seriously. However, I don’t take myself too seriously and do have fun on Twitter too. Twitter is great for having fun– that is part of how serious communities are built.

Twitter has gotten me connected to people and I’m not sure that would have happened in real life in the last few years. It has, in many ways, saved my life. Are there plenty of people that can live without it? I’m sure there are. Even I need breaks sometimes. And having built my community online that has translated into the real world in many ways and I feel a lot better taking those social media breaks.

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What to do?

On her blog, Doctor PMS wrote about needing to find a new path.

I am too. Though I still have things I want to do in my research career…like publish. Anything.

these are tough times for postdocs. And the entire research system (despite signs of reform…those won’t actually help me much I don’t feel). And I hate the state of being static for so long; and I think other people can sense it. I dread being asked what I do because I should be further along than I am, period. And I constantly worry I’m in a delusional bubble; in denial about just how bad it really is.

Something really has to change. I am still staring at a brick wall. Maybe I’ve put a few holes in it, but it doesn’t really feel that way. I’ve tried upgrading my skills and yet don’t feel like that’s come as far along as I’d like either. Writing, learning stats better, learning to code more, having fun with photoshop/illustrator…I still don’t have many things to apply those skills to (a “real” project), outside of fun internet projects. I networked more than I ever have this year. And yet I still am feeling blind to possibility. To opportunity. And I’m aware that opportunity often looks like hard work. I don’t mind that.

I’m feeling like the amount of effort I put into things is not yielding the results that are needed. Change is hard, and I still need to get out of my own way and just take more chances, even stupid ones and stop this stupid analysis paralysis problem I seem to have.

I suppose the first step I have down: trying again. Because for years, I had stopped. Given up. And not felt like anything I did could possibly matter. Feeling low in value, me building something on my own, mostly of my own (of course in collaboration with other people) just stalled and that’s the primary job of a postdoc. It all just feels futile now.

So many people I run across are putting out such amazing stuff. I’d like to join them in getting work I do out there, and it may just be I am not doing the right kind of work that I am deeply connected to to put out into the world.

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s all I can say. I’d like to feel like I’m growing, but it still feels like I’m not moving anywhere fast in any avenue of life. And of course, making an arbitrary decision as to which direction to go does not seem smart or feel correct to me either.

In 2015, my vow is to better measure progress. Emails sent to network contacts, number of women I ask out on dates, miles run, etc. along with clearer goals…I don’t know what my long term goals are anymore…since academia isn’t likely to be in my future, I still feel lost as to where to contribute; where to go. Or if it’s even possible. Most of all, I need more people in my immediate real life. My friends on Twitter and the ones I have in life all live rather far away…and sometimes, I just need a real hug from a close friend when I’m going through all these thoughts.

I feel I can’t go on exactly as I am much longer and I don’t know what that means. So many fits and starts. will anything spark within me?  Will anything pan out?

I want to show my friends that I’m growing with one of those ‘major life events’ everyone seems to go through but me. Dating, buying a house, getting married, having kids…I don’t have to have any of them nor am I entitled to them of course, but I feel like I have robbed myself of the opportunity to even explore the possibilities because I said ‘work first, academia first, science is more important’…but it’s not.

Science will be fine when I’m long gone. The people I get to know, help, and be around are what matters more to me. And yet I don’t see them nearly enough. As much as I’d like to blame a completely upside down academic system that encourages a ‘science first, over people’ mantra, a lot of this is still my own fault. And up to me to change. To ask others to help me make a new reality. That’s the component I always seem to muck up…being able to ask for help when I need it. to explore.

Sigh. I hope it’s not too late. I don’t know. And of course, I’ll need help.

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pre-Plant Biology 2014 (#PlantBiology14) post.

As I prepare to head to a conference with my newer mindset (as in not as depressed, experimenting with life more), I’m thinking about conferences, what they are for, who they are for, and what it is I’m trying to get out of attending this one (#PlantBiology14).

Even though I’ve been going to a conference or two every year for my whole scientific career, I’ve almost always felt out of place, not like I belong (hello impostorism!). And like I haven’t really been present enough to take advantage of what is on offer there.

I largely thought that conferences were for PIs (‘real’ scientists; those could certainly be grad students and postdocs) to get together to swap stories of funding, writing, ideas for new or old collaborations, grants, and things like that. PIs always seemed to be writing furiously at their computers between sessions, presumably writing grants? Furiously emailing? Perhaps updating their talk? Getting the latest dispatch from their labs? Analyzing ALL the data? It did seem largely specific to PIs to my eye; not as many postdocs or grad students doing that. I guess that’s why PIs earn the big bucks. Paid to always be (look?) busy and exhausted constantly? I’m sure any PI reading this will laugh at just how wildly inaccurate my projection of what it is they’re up to is; even though I’m a postdoc, I don’t get that great a sense of what actually goes on in a PIs mind.

Poster sessions were the worst. I sometimes would wonder exactly what I was doing there, taking up space, that someone else could actually use to do something actually productive and contribute to the world. I’m strongly introverted. I was (& still can be) shy and anxious. My history of being depressed doesn’t help either; a combination of not wanting to spread my depressed thoughts to anyone else and feeling completely unworthy of existence. I tended to not think highly of myself– still don’t very often though I’ve gotten better at acknowledging that I too, can do decent work sometimes.

Other people do great things (I now count myself amongst the doers, creators and builders of the world; one reason I started blogging– of course that means I am always striving to do more than I have done); I will continue to try and find the good in what others are doing and help them improve their work if I can or help them learn a new thing about the world or point them to a place they may not have been aware of.

Of course, I can discount connecting people to ideas these days because we all have a fire hose worth of information coming at us constantly now and the key skill is to be a good filter for all that information– the conference environment can be overwhelming. Maybe the best I can do is try to ask good questions when people are talking about what they are doing, even though I imagine most things I would ask are probably naïve (but maybe those are valuable too).

That said, it’s hard to be a connector of people to ideas if you aren’t actively interacting with people; especially at a conference where interacting and building community is the main reason for the event (Introversion does not mean aversion to people, FYI). A place where grad students and postdocs can land jobs (or at least start that conversation) and maybe get out of their own narrow confines for awhile. Outside that one conference at the end of my Ph.D. where I found my postdoc position and on that same trip met a girl who I dated for 8 months, conferences have mostly been drab affairs where I become a zombie, not really actively engaged and kind of put off by the crowds of people at booths and feeling largely isolated and not just because of exhaustion; because I couldn’t push beyond my largely mental barriers.

I’m trying to re-frame the conference in my mind. More as a place where good things can happen to anyone (me included). Where you can meet new people and find your ‘scene’ as entertainers like to call it; your group of people you come up with, learn from and bounce ideas off the wall, get feedback, etc. (this happens in science too; clusters of scientists that grow and succeed together in their independent careers; I’m sure these are fascinating Venn diagrams). Where it’s not perfect, but in the chaos, interesting ideas come out, new people are well met. I started Tweeting a few years ago and last year, tweeted up a storm which was a lot of fun for me and I plan to do it again this year. There’s now a more formal social media framework for the conference: the iConnect with Plant Biology team. We’ll be extending the meeting beyond the meeting with The Internet coverage from attendees and interacting online with anyone who’s interested. I met people last year because of Twitter.

I posted a fill in the blank elevator pitch based on the opening of Star Trek the other day. I think it’s not a bad mantra to take into a conference either:

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 12.00.56 PM The full text, if you don’t know is (no worries if you’ve never seen this before):

“Space, The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”*

Conferences are a place to expand your mind, push your comfort zone, grow some new brain connections with new ideas, systems, scientists and thoughts and importantly, to build the community of like-minded people; plant scientists in this case. While my research contribution is small, I fully intend to connect people, find new places and avenues I haven’t really looked into before and to cover my experiences on Twitter. Of course, I’ll catch up with old friends too. One good thing about going to the same conference for years in a row is just this; you see the people from your ‘science scene’ again and again and catch up (and perhaps incorporate new people into that scene– if you see someone standing alone, invite them into your conversation or just say hello; sure, it may go nowhere, but you don’t find out by ignoring people; cultivate curiosity).

There’s a notion that I even joked about above, that PIs with their heads in their computers kind of takes them out of the conference. I don’t fully subscribe to that; I think that tools like Twitter and other digital media (even just note taking) really are game changers for conferences and scientific ideas to spread beyond the confines of the actual attendees. And even for attendees, digital coverage can help them have a richer conference experience, as one person cannot attend all things.

Mindfulness is kind of a buzzword these days with some good reason. I am going to try and not be blindly mindful, but really actually notice what’s there in front of me and then tweet and photograph (within the rules) the entire thing to help others have an enhanced experience. I am also going to try and manage a blog post or two during the conference, as Twitter is great for some things, but not for longer form thinking like this.

Conferences are for germinating ideas, a starting point for new growth, for interacting with the forest, and pollinating ideas. They’re a leaping off point to new places.

Here’s to a good Plant Biology 2014 (#PlantBiology14) and may we all boldly go where no one has gone before (just know my boldness more likely will show up on Twitter rather than in person).

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*Yes, I forgot the ‘strange new worlds’ clause in my version with blanks. I’m a horrible nerd, more impostorism.

Let it Go.

Note: Slight trigger warning here. I talk about depression and suicidal thoughts herein. For those who could care less about such things, read on! 

This post was inspired after reading Adam Rubin’s latest ‘Experimental Error’ column in Science Careers. I think it’s one of the posts that makes me nervous to post. I worry that disclosing my (largely) past issues with depression hurts me (even while feeling that literally changing my brain required enormous fortitude and determination on my part). I worry how I probably come off as a whiny and overly sensitive human in a world that does not value sensitivity in any job; I hate feeling like I’m one of those so called ‘orchid’ people…needing fairly specific conditions to thrive (The dreaded response: empathy? compassion? People first? Listening? Learning/education? HAHAHAAHAHA! Most ridiculous things we’ve ever heard of. Get out of this office, we’re about the dollars! //Note: I too, am about dollars on some level, just not to the exclusion of other things; maybe where I differ is wanting to build for the long-term, not the next quarter…something else no longer really valued it seems to me). I realize that the world is full of decent people too. I hope you enjoy this rather experimental essay 

Let it Go.

I want to let go. I want all of us to let it go.

The cold will never bother us if we do. I’m pretty convinced.

Read this and this from Sarah K. Peck and Andrew Rubin, respectively.

We exist in a state of terror as young scientists (or a lot of us do, perhaps some even unaware– the terror can be hard to distinguish from the air we breathe).

We’re frozen with fear.

With the pressure to be perfect.

With the fear of making mistakes.

With the fear that anything but the tenure-track is ‘failure’.

Fearing we’re not one of the super-humans that can ‘make it’ in science.

Vulnerability isn’t allowed (The beginnings of change, innovation, learning, and purpose– not necessarily fabulous wealth/success, but deeper satisfaction in work, definitely).

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes scientists able to produce high quality work.

The conclusion from my anecdotal experience is a combination of effort, space/time to think, permission to make mistakes, an iterating growth mindset, some autonomy, and an open environment where learning from one another is encouraged and people aren’t afraid to ask for things they need (no, that does not mean always getting them).

And my own watchword here: Don’t become clinically depressed. Learn the signs and if it seems like your emotions have been flattened for a few weeks straight, seek help, nip it in the bud quickly. Believe me you don’t want the feeling that you & the world would be better off if you were dead (in part because you functionally don’t fully see the difference between being alive and being dead), hoping a bus will run you over. That’s not a brain space for doing good science; you can do science, but you certainly won’t be firing on all cylinders. Even now that I’m a lot less depressed, my mind still has those thoughts sometimes. It’s a mental habit I’m trying to get out of still.

Chris Hadfield talks about fear and danger and how to take risks and be prepared.

15-20 years of training in every possible scenario and then you can launch yourself into space. Get started learning the whole system you’ll be working in and you’ll be ready to take chances and put yourself out of this world.

And yet, today’s academic system doesn’t instill that very well (or doesn’t allow the time for that to happen; the long learning phase seems to get clipped off even as experiments get bigger, more technical and more complex).

The work has to get done and yet there seems to be ‘no time’ for training people to do it even though we’re labeled grad students and postdocs; both considered ‘training phases’.

Fantastic mentorship exists and there are people that thrive, but I’m sure we can do better, do better work and improve the scientific enterprise without making a sizable population of participants within it mentally ill (again that does not mean it shouldn’t be hard; science will always be hard work and take effort).

Feedback is often judgmental and harsh, instilling a fixed mindset, believing learning isn’t possible, but that our talent/intelligence is a fixed trait.

Pressure and uncertainty can be paralyzing. One misstep and we’ll be unemployable forever. Nothing but academia is acceptable. Don’t tack against the wind. If you’re not in the lab, you must be wasting time.

And if you can’t do it on your own, don’t bother. Collaborate and be a good citizen, but stand out. Work alone, but as a team.

Being able to learn, problem solve, ask good questions, and perhaps be unleashed to do grow and do great things somewhere won’t happen because you’re convinced you’re an impostor.

Never enough. Ever.

There’s a fog that settles over your mind. You have dead eyes. Helplessness sets in.

I’ve felt all of these things and I’m starting to get to a place where the cold doesn’t bother me anymore.

There’s a space for me somewhere; either in science or not, I don’t know, but it exists and I can rule there, even if it is just me writing for a small audience on my blog.

Let it Go. We’re all human. Fallible and ridiculous creatures.

Take the work, but not yourself, too seriously. Try stuff. Figure out how to do it in small scale first if it’s something new to you that will be big later. And write. Write it all down– take notes.  And don’t be afraid to get your work out there or toss out ideas (guess what, vast majority will be terrible and probably wrong, who cares?).

Always feeling like I did the rational thing hasn’t worked. So I’m trying irrational (to me; often that means leaping without 100% certainty of outcome…obviously I still try to be as informed as possible ).

I adopted a cat a month ago. That makes no logical sense for my life, but I think it was a good decision for the most part.

My joke about this blog has been that it’s about what not to do as a postdoc/academic. I hope it’s helped a few people, mainly me, of course, because I write for myself too (and it has helped me).

Success is not a straight road. It’s a maze with lots of blind turns and dead ends. We won’t all end up in academia, but I’m sure most of us will find satisfying work somewhere, some how.

Let it go. All of us. We’ll likely do better work, help each other more, give better feedback, and not always act so terrified of everything and everyone. Funding is tight, work/life balance doesn’t exist, we don’t know enough to advance to the next phase since you only get hired to do something someone needs done, who can demonstrate they’re awesome in a loud way (never mind if they’ve hastily published crap papers in high profile journals…it’s out there, so they must be good somehow).

I feel passionate enough about studying the ideal knowledge worker that I’d be willing to switch fields and make a study of just how to optimize humans to do science. It’s certainly not a one size fits all formula (e.g. it’ll likely be different for introverts and extroverts), but as with depression, there are likely hallmarks of it as well as individual level manifestations.

Keep going. Get out into the cold. It’s not as bad as you think/feel, we’re wired for survival (take that from a former near-suicidal person). Expose yourself to small ‘dangers’ at first and watch yourself grow. It won’t be pretty. Winter is always coming. Staying in a warm cocoon leads to mere survival whereas the science enterprise not only must survive, but thrive as well (advancement & knowledge is our business). I’m sick of mere survival for myself. Let it go.

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Reaction 2.

More.

I wrote a post last week based on reaction to an interaction on Twitter with @Sumscience (Summer Allen). I am not sure it was my best post. And I think between some of the things I wrote, there’s even more I could say- and probably more positive/constructive what I want my science career to be like (but probably can’t be). So this is a second reaction to my first reaction. What can I say. I’m a thinker. Introverted types tend to be that way. No, that doesn’t mean I’m super into myself (though I could stand to be- self-deprecation can actually be detrimental. I’ve thought of myself as less than for most of my adult life). I genuinely do care about other people.

Fun.

I was listening to the ‘On Being’ interview with Lawrence Krauss this weekend. This was after I watched one of his ‘Origins Project’ presentations about scientific story telling and why it’s important to have science be a story (all the people on stage were incredible- the only one I’ve never been able to fully stand is Ira Flato…don’t know what that is, just never connected with him). In fact, I saw an ecology talk where the speaker talked about his work with algal blooms as  a story- not usually something I’m interested in- but I got swept up by it despite myself. It was an interesting story about what made the algae bloom.

One of the things Dr. Krauss talks about is that people do science for fun; not because we get practical things out of it or produce technologies from it- that’s kind of a side effect of discovering new things. I do think there’s something to that. However, the ‘fun’ part seems to be done by the PIs like Dr. Krauss, whereas postdocs and Ph.D. students do the real work and get so focused on it that it’s too easy to lose sight of the big picture- or barely get a chance to remind ourselves of it. We’re working to prove ourselves still, to come up with our own groundbreaking understandings in our respective fields. So science should be fun- and seeing how it affects our lives is really cool to me. I know most scientists I talk to have a bigger curiosity about the world than just their tiny area; assuming we take time to explore…which I know I stopped doing when I was really depressed; and even still have trouble initiating adventure in my life.

Part of the reason for that is not feeling like I’ve earned the right to explore, or could afford the time. The pressure is on to do the best work we can in a short time to hopefully have our dreams of becoming a PI who can think about the big picture and have liberty to explore, engage in new projects, etc. As if exploration isn’t just a feature of being a human being.

Lean into uncertainty.

Dr. Krauss also talked about how science lives and breathes uncertainty and has to live there to  make new discoveries. This is something I’ve written about before with regard to my own brain. It’s something I’ve been trying to cultivate in myself is a tolerance for uncertainty and doubt in my life, without it being paralyzing. In theory, this is what faith is all about, though in too many contemporary theologic contexts, faith is equivalent to certainty.

I think scientists do their best work when they can be uncertain and push themselves to be in that uncomfortable territory. I’ve experienced that twice this weekend. I did some new things on the confocal microscope that I hadn’t done before and I ran 12 miles- 3 miles beyond my personal longest run ever. I feel awesome having done both of those things, even if they’re truly minor in the scheme of things. I leaned in. I was unsure of exactly what I was getting into, but I decided to play around. I also tried a new simple method and may have gotten something good out of it (still have to analyze that data).

One of the current pressures on postdocs and grad students is to be perfect every time. As techniques get more expensive, time is more important than ever and rushing things to get volumes of POSITIVE data mean that wonder, fun and uncertainty go by the way side.

Not all research has to have a specific point or application immediately apparent. Over time, the accumulation of things we learn far outweighs the dead ends some of us end up pursuing.

Frustration

Science is hard. Which is good. However, it is frustrating that to succeed, a lot of external factors have to come together- as well as internal ones. The current system for postdocs is not conducive to creativity or uncertainty in research. Do what works. Do it quickly. And often, you’re doing it for someone else, not your own purposes as jobs have dried up. I know a lot of us hope to break through to the other side, the sunny side of the academic experience, but it is seeming less and less likely that that can happen for most of us.

Now, most of us just hope for a decent career, or inventing one for ourselves that works. Years of not leaning into the uncertainty of it all and staying where I was because exploring seemed too daunting. The last few months, I’ve made a number of small leaps. Maybe I’m nearly ready for a big one.

Bias.

Academic mastery vs. real world mastery.

I like ‘The Big Bang Theory’. I can see myself in the main characters of the show (not Penny as much, but I’m not an attractive blonde girl from Nebraska who sometimes turns out to the be smartest one in the room when it comes to life in the real world). 

Which brings me to the point of this post (which again, I’m sure has been hashed to death by others in a more engaging way). 

There’s an episode ‘The Friendship Algorithm’ where Sheldon talks about learning how to swim over the internet. He later learns to rock climb by the same method. 

When Sheldon does attempt to actually rock climb, he makes it part way up the wall until he realizes he’s ‘high up’ (5 feet, at most!), gets really scared and can’t move up or down. And eventually faints and falls off the wall…’hanging there like a huge Salami’ as Barry Kripke describes it. 

Funny scene, but also speaks to an issue I know I struggle with. Being in my own head too often. And when confronted with something practical I need to do, I freeze in fear. If it’s something new, it needs to be studied to death first (it is kind of amazing that Sheldon gets anything done, but perhaps because he’s a theoretical physicist, his work truly is all in his head and he just needs to write it down in publishable form). 

I may be doing better but I’m still too perfectionist for my own good. It’s hard to separate striving for excellence with trying to be perfect. Obviously, the former is fine, the latter is crippling. Jason Moore shared this series on academic perfectionism addresses the issues I definitely still have- almost at an unconscious level. I do it automatically with writing, it’s part of the reason I write here. to get over it (it’s partly helped). I haven’t read the whole series, but the first installment nails the problem…I can’t wait to read the rest of it. It is targeted towards faculty, but think the issues apply equally to grad students and postdocs. 

The level of certainty I seem to need in things is higher than for most other people. Like Raj on ‘Big Bang’, I have trouble talking to women (at least ones that I don’t know..I’m OK w/ female friends). It’s perfectionism + needing certainty of outcome for me to proceed. 

Trying to live purely intellectually is what I’ve done for so long that it’s hard to learn a new way of doing things. Or to do what Sheldon doesn’t, try to get over fear, get out of my head into the messy uncertain world and try as many new things as possible. It’s where my resolutions are centered this year. I have no doubt I’m in for a world of mistakes.

Lifehacker was once again helpful with a timely post about taking small steps towards addressing anxieties and fear. As I do with this blog, I guess it means exposing myself to the real world. 

So this year, I am working on being the master of my academic work, but also to not be as paralyzed by the real world either. Through small steps. Let’s see how I do…