Sunday, November 9, 2008


It's getting harder and harder for me to maintain the façade that everything is just fine with me, that my research is merrily chugging along and that I'm totally happy in my choice of careers.

In the various Women in Science meetings I've been to over the last few months, the common theme expressed by successful women scientists is that they were always buoyed by their passion for their work.

I'm just not feeling the love right now.

What I'm feeling is a whole lot of fear. Fear that my subject matter is irrelevant. Fear that I'm just not good enough. Fear that I lack the requisite networking skills. Fear that I won't get another job after my postdoc is up. Fear of leaving astronomy, because it's all I know how to do right now. Fear of the overwhelming uncertainty of it all.

There are a few bright spots. I get really excited about the some of the results I get. But then the fear sets in again. What if no one cares? What if it's all wrong?

I hate this time of year: everything is bleak and dark, and it's not just that the trees are losing their foliage and the sun is disappearing, it's also the time that job applications are due. I feel like I'm forcing myself to act excited about my research at the same time I'm putting it out there for everyone to judge, and I'm afraid that everyone will see me as the imposter that I am.

I'm afraid of turning out to be another leak in the pipeline. And the worst part is that I'll never be sure if I've left because I was forced to, or if I just didn't try hard enough. After all, if only I'd tried harder, surely I would have found a way to stay.

In the mean time, I keep going through the motions and working away at writing papers. I am feeling more and more like I am simply tying up loose ends in order to close up shop when I finish out this postdoc. Then, finally, I'll disappear into the unknown...


Alice's Astro Info said...

Do you know Pamela Gay ( If not, tell her Alice of Alice's Astro Info sent you, I'm sure she doesn't have a job for you, but she's a darn connected person.

What's your area anyway - stellar stuff? I can sort through my contacts and see what I've got ... I'm in the wrong network for you, but I have quite a thick rolodex - I'm sure someone knows someone!

Alexandra said...

This is _such_ a common sentiment, from me to John and lots of our friends. I wonder if it is rather the uncertainty than anything else, and if other women in the sciences are forgetting that everyone (even men) have those dark days.