Sunday, February 14, 2010

Now what?

Hi there
Wow, February already huh? LittleOne has been keeping me busy and life has been a satisfying slow, but with lots of things to think about pace that has left me more than a little stressed. That said, I'm really enjoying (and so grateful it's been a possibility) my maternity leave. As I've been watching Husband struggle through the post-postdoc job search (he's been unemployed since last summer) I've been spending a lot of time reflecting about whether I really want to go down that postdoc route or if I should jump academic ship while I still can... A great friend and former labmate has been so helpful in listening to all my inner worries and finds solutions to all my doubts. She is currently 2 years into her postdoc and loving it right now, and really encouraging me to do one too. But I still have all these nagging thoughts and feelings... so, I thought I'd share them here. If anyone is still out there reading, I'd love to hear your take, your experiences, your advice...

So, why am I so doubtful about the whole postdoc experience? Besides the work/family balance, the huge open "can we even think of making this work financially?" and "do I even want to move to another not home country AGAIN and start over my whole village AGAIN?" or for that matter, do I want to be the REASON to uproot our family and take them farther away from family AGAIN or is that just more than a bit too much pressure to have hanging over my head at the beginning of a postdoc?

To be honest. I'm still feeling exceptionally stupid. I miss work, miss experiments, miss hearing/reading about cool science, but I feel so out of the loop. And I'm not even sure how to get back in, though thanks to great friend I now have access to online journals again. And then, I'm not even sure anymore what questions I'm interested in, let alone who is working on those things, and definitely not who would be a great or a crappy boss to work for. I'm not sure why I want to do a postdoc, since I'm really not sure if a group leader job is in my future, and if it's not then what is the point? I guess mostly I'm scared that I suck and no one would want to hire me (I'm terrified of interviews right now) since I have a kid and I'm still pregnancy/mom brain stupid and I'm not feeling even slightly ambitious. Or they would hire me and then be so disappointed :(

See, I read a message from great science friends now postdocing at amazing places, or even make a trip into visit the lab and I hear all about everyone's cool projects and ideas and I get excited for them, but just end up thinking that I'd never be smart or creative enough to think up a project on my own, or know what to do to make the project a success. Friend put it really well when she said that in the lab where we did our PhDs we learned a lot (A LOT!) but the price we paid was our confidence, and our enthusiasm.

I'm having kind of a rough time emotionally/psychologically right now though, and I'm super stressed about money/visas/jobs/having a place to live right now so I know that's clouding my judgment, but it certainly doesn't motivate me to start reading and researching out postdocs. I hate hate hate living in limbo. I'm so sick of it and I feel like I've been stuck here in uncertain future limbo land for several years now.

Friend tells me that the worst reason to NOT do something is because you're afraid it won't work out. I think friend is a wise wise lady. But I'm still not so sure I'm ready (or ever will be ready) to take that blind leap off the cliff and jump into postdoc land.