Saturday, October 4, 2008

Goal 1: Control the Universe

The 1992 graduate asked me who I worked for, and when I told her she scrunched up her face in disgust. I smiled and said "yes."

"Maybe he's changed." She said.

"He hasn't. The person who told me I should work for him got fired the year I joined."

"That was the same thing that happened to my friend who worked for him." she said.


Now in my third year, my boss is not the problem. He isn't going to fire me, because right now, I am more valuable to him than he is to me. On top of that, I have learned how to deal with him. I don't stress out about group meetings or seeing him.

The problem is now internal and personal. Personal because my house is a mess, and I have to study organic on my down time rather than clean my house. Internal because I feel like I haven't done anything worthwhile in the past 2.25 years.

I know it isn't true. I have a paper published in a journal where "only experts in the field" publish. I won a teaching award. I have led the revival of my Women In Science group for the past year growing our membership from 5 to 45. I passed my oral exam and all of my PhD qualifiers.

But I have not made a scientific contribution to my field. In reality this is mostly because of (1) choosing to work for an older advisor who has had several bad ideas that I had to entertain. and (2) bad luck, old instruments, lack of funding. I am certain that I am not alone in my current status of lack of contribution. A professor I respect got his whole thesis out of the last 6 months of the 6 years it took him to get a PhD. In fact, most people I know (haven't/hadn't) done anything worthwhile (at this point in their PhD education.) I guess I feel frustrated because Katu, a friend that I respect, HAS done worthwhile work.

To further Analyse the situation:
  • Katu works longer hours than me, and she probably works harder than me 85% of the time
  • Katu works for a young professor who has good ideas
  • Katu does not have a paper in the esteemed journal that I have one in
  • Katu hasn't led the Women In Science group
  • Katu hasn't won a teaching award
  • Katu has passed her PhD qualifiers
  • Katu doesn't exercise regularly or have dogs
I guess I am only bothered because she is further along in getting the degree, but she is not further along in being the total person that I want to be.

I ask myself: Would I trade my accomplishments for Katu's? The answer is no. I just want it all. And that brings us to the truth: that you really can't have it all. Life is a trade off, and with each thing we choose we discard a different choice.

So I guess the answer is: focus on the positive. I am the person that I want to be except for the fact that I'm not omnipotent.


Peacebone said...

I am constantly reminded of the reasons I love you, Fermi.

Fermi said...

Thanks. It was good to talk to you today, peaches. We should start a crusade against the bitches in the parking office.

Skuh said...

I really enjoyed this post, Fermi.
I mean: "I am the person that I want to be except for the fact that I'm not omnipotent." That's gold, right there.

Fermi said...


Omnipotence bothers me a great deal.

And now that I think of it:

Impotent is only 2 letters short of Omnipotent. That should be McCain's new campaign slogan. :)

Maru said...

also katu is not married. FACT