Monday, January 08, 2007

'Designing' and women are like tea bags

So, as a bit of a new year resolution, I'm getting around to trying a bit of 'designing'. I use that term in the loosest possible sense - making it up as I go along may be more accurate. This, my friends, is all you're going to get for now......
Also on the needles is a Scarf for my Grandpa, who is 90 on Sunday. We're going over to Norwich on Sunday for a bit of a Party. He's colourblind and so has little appreciation of colour. I am hoping that this is nice and texturised to make up for it. I like the ease of mock cables.
As for the rest of my life. Well, the New Year isn't proving too fantastic so far. Unusually for January, I don't have major money issues, somehow I didn't massively overspend at christmas. I have however, been seriously considering my career and it's upsetting me quite a lot. It's something that has troubled me a lot recently, and the new year has brought it all to the surface. Why does the start of a new year have that effect?
My worries hinge primarily on not enjoying my work at all. I don't technically work, as many of you know. I'm studying for a PhD and I'm coming to the end - my funding runs out in September. I've nearly finished the lab work I have in the pipeline and I'm coming to write my thesis. Most people find this daunting - I find it a relief - it's signalling the end. I don't in any way regret the decision to take on this project. I know I was unbelievably lucky to be given it, with funding already in place. I appreciate the oppertunity to have the highest possible education at a leading institution. I have spent the last thirty months working with the most wonderful people who will be friends for life. I don't spend every day dreading going to work. But, I can't go on doing this. I am a rubbish scientist. I don't work at weekends, and I don't read in the evenings and I don't clamour to go to conferences. In my opinion, good scientists are passionate. I'm sure this mainly is to do with choosing the wrong project. I cannot bare the specific tasks I have to do any more, it's wearing me down. I have a specific area that I would love to work in. I guarantee that I would be passionate about it. But departments that specialise in it hardly exist. I would love to work in equine nutrition. Dearly. I have tried to build up contacts and find people to talk to. Those few I have found get in to discussion about it then forget about me - I clearly don't stand out as a good scientist. This kind of work does not exist.
The other reason it bothers me, is that I did an awful lot of temping in between academic commitments. I loved it. Most people don't. I did all sorts of stuff and I was good at it. I did two weeks for a large international firm near here, just before I started my project. They tried to persuade me to not go back to uni for my PhD and work for them in marketing. They really tried. He even said to call him if I ever wanted a job. It crossed my mind at the time, but I was sure my academic endeavours would lead me to the job of my dreams. They haven't. If I knew then what I know now I would have taken it.
So, the conclusion is, I know what I don't want to do. Clearly. And I suppose that's a start. But what do I want to do? I have no idea. I certainly don't want to be an eternal temp but I have no idea how to move out of Science. I need to talk to my supervisor, who I know will be sympathetic, but I don't know how. I am terrified of being stuck in a job that I don't even like because I've been caught in a snowball.
I've just read something that Eleanor Roosevelt apparently said:
'Women are like Tea bags. We don't know our true strength until we are in hot water'.
Now, I don't think my situation counts as hot water, but I like it. I'll tear it out of the magazine and put it in my book, maybe it'll inspire me.
Anyway, this blog is about knitting, not being a moaning minnie. Normal service will soon be resumed. Thanks for listening.


Cat said...

I can sympathis with the job angst - my office is being moved to London so as I've no wish to follow it I'm in the process of reassessing myself! There has been much 'what aspects of what I've ever done do I enjoy?' going on chez moi...

Is it worth you getting back in contact with the boss who was so keen to tempt you away from academia in the first place? I know it's a while later, but there's a good chance he'll remember you (even if he is now elsewhere) and it's a potential opening to discuss a different direction.

Liz said...

*hugs.* I'm in grad school too, not nearly as far along as you, and I think everyone wonders if they've chosen right. Some did, but some didn't. Good luck!

scarybez said...

Poor Nell! It's horrid being in a situation where everyone else around you seems passionate about what you're doing and you just feel a bit indifferent. But doing a PhD doesn't necessarily mean you have to be an academic forever - I certainly don't (to be honest, I'd probably end it right now if I wasn't so damn proud!). As you said, knowing what you don't want to do is a start. I know it's scary, but it's also exciting (maybe?!) - you're young, you don't have too many commitments (no kids to support etc) and this is the time to experiment.

On a completely different note - I'm intrigued by your design - when are we going to see the finished object? And which part of Norwich does your Grandpa live in? I lived there for 4 years and loved it.

Take care. Sarah x

Anonymous said...

If you would love to work in equine nutrition, then keep looking. Keep talking to people, keep networking. You might feel like work in this area doesn't exsist, but it must! Don't horses have to eat?? Even if it is not your main job, perhaps you can keep this as a part time educational type project. You could work to teach people with their first horse how important nutrition/diet is. I'm sure I don't know enough about it to make recommendations. I just don't want you to give up on something you love. Find a way to work it into your life, even in a voluntary way.

:-) Amanda (gr8aunt)

Alma said...

Oh, I understand your situation.
I left a brilliant job for a not so brilliant one, which I then left for a very crappy job enabling a return to university.
And now I am passionate about studying if nothing else.
I think the important lesson to tea bags is when to leave the hot water in order to avoid the bitterness.
The secret design looks intriquing - and the colours are beautiful.
And you have a very lucky grandpa!

Areli said...

The scarf you are making for your grandfather looks lovely. The texture is very nice.

It's sounds like a frustrating position that you are in. But, you are on the right track, identifying what you don't want. I have found a few time in my life that when I am really feeling like I'm in the wrong place, that it's just before a life change that will propel me in the right direction. Maybe that is what is happening for you, too.

I really like the tea bag quote, too. will have to remember it.

Batty said...

This is a very serious decision. It's not just about job security, either. I was in a PhD program, I finished my oral exams and was beginning to work on my thesis. Everyone feels like dropping out once in a while, but the majority of my readings were putting me to sleep. Eventually, I asked an all-important question: "Can I see myself doing this kind of work in 30 years? Would it make me happy?"

I answered 'No' and got the heck out of that program. I picked the wrong field. I'm going back to grad school, but studying what I should have studied in the first place. It's a hard decision, but thinking about your future will either make you a happier practitioner of your chosen field, or it'll show you what you need to do.

Nell said...

Looks like you have a lot on your plate at the moment.

And just follow your heart when it comes to job stuff. You'll spend too much time at the office (or whatever) to hate what you're doing. Trust me, I have 0 job satisfaction. And that's why I'm headed back to school. You have to do what you love or at least what gives you satisfaction on a daily basis. Good Luck!

Nell said...

And thanks for your hints on IKEA. Maybe I'll head over there on a Tuesday at 9pm. :)

Annie said...

Does teaching appeal? My best friend is doing her post-doc at a University and is now leaning toward teaching and research...

I can certainly understand the tea bag analogy, and I also feel that things often work out the way they're supposed to. I think you'll find your way.

I remember wanting to be a hair dresser or nail tech and my family saying I was "too smart" to do that- but now, having done some grad work and deciding that I am just NOT a student (I have my BA), I think there's nothing wrong with having a PhD and being a temp, or a BA and being a hairdresser- ultimately you need to do whatever makes YOU happy!!

honeybee33 said...

I'm always amazed at how lame advice left in blog comments sounds! That said, here's mine. ;~)

My professor is doing his PhD thesis on an obscure American poet. He says at this point he wants to dig the man up from his grave just so he can punch him in the face. "PhD fatigue" is so common and so valid. And any kind of fatigue signals a need to back away and either take a rest and reapply oneself -or- just turn away altogether and follow something that *gives* you energy and incites your passions.

Personally, I know little of science or animals, but I can't believe there is no need for the analysis of equine nutrition in the entire world. Wouldn't it be of intense interest to both animal-feed companies and fine-horse breeders? Could this be an area in which you could *initiate* interest in research? Think broad! Think big! If you find there's no established path, then blaze one!!! Passion like yours is what gets these types of things created in the world. And if you have both scientific *AND* marketing skills, you'll know how to "sell" your idea and get other people interested, too.

Before Eleanor Roosevelt, the model for a First Lady was as a decorative hostess. Let her be *your* model for not just endurance, but initiative, too.

~ hb33 ~