Thursday, March 5, 2009

Feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed

I'm struggling this week, partly from lack of motivation to start new things in my "old" lab (ok, this is probably a major part of the problem) but mostly I'm feeling paralyzed because I feel like I have no clue what I'm doing. Pretty much everything on my miles long to-do list involves techniques I have never or only occasionally used in the past in this lab. It feels like even the simplest experiment is super difficult because I just don't know how to do it. I don't even know where to start. I'm completely overwhelmed. Sure, I can find a protocol (if anyone bothered to update the lab protocol collection - most likely not, as I found out already for 2 different protocols today alone), but I don't know where the reagents are kept or how to use the equipment or how much time to plan for completing the experiment. I feel like a brand new person in the lab, completely clueless and utterly dependent on the kindness/patience of labmates to teach me/show me/help me out. And I hate feeling like that. At least in this place. It's not a lab known for tolerance of people not knowing. Period. Not knowing the literature, the technique, where to find things, how to make everything work the first time. It just doesn't fly. In fact, it's usually met with an eye roll, much talking behind your back and treating you like you're totally stupid for not being born knowing. It's not a place to learn, except to learn how to be like the others. And it makes me feel stupid and worthless and like I just want to run away. Not very compatible with being productive. *sigh* I think it's just one of those days.


  1. That sounds like an awful place to be :( I hate the expectation that everyone is supposed to know everything already. That doesn't even make sense - labs/universities are places of LEARNING not places of "already knowing". If everyone already knew everything, then the lab wouldn't need to be there, would it?

    Sigh - as you can probably tell, I've encountered this attitude as well. I hope it gets a bit better/easier for you soon!

  2. I get paralyzed about a new protocol, too. It must be much, much worse to be expected to know everything and anything all at once. I hope that things get better soon!

  3. Good luck.

    It is really hard to start something new, and it much be even worse in that kind of lab culture. It always helps to break it down into smaller pieces.

  4. Sorry to hear about the difficulties. Attitudes like that are so unnecessary but so common. If the quick replies are any indication- hopefully you will be out of there and on to better things soon!