In the spirit of ScienceWoman’s call for June Scientiae, I’ve been thinking about what keeps me moving these days.
One of the things that I’m aware of is that I have a comfort acitivity: I read books when I’m feeling down, uncomfortable or don’t know how to go on from where I’m standing or how I’m feeling. While reading, I try to figure out what’s really bothering me and how I’m going to solve it (books reread are often from Tamora Pierce, Lois McMaster Bujold, Anne MacCaffrey, Jane Austen, Diana Duane, … anybody noticing a trend?).

Sometimes what is bothering me means I have to be ok with not being liked by everybody. Or, yes, I did look stupid, but other people say and do stupid things too. And if I didn’t make mistakes, I would be unable to learn from them. So it’s not so much about trying to achieve perfection, but about moving on, learning from mistakes and others’ mistakes. There are also a couple of slogans hanging around on post-it, for those reasons (from the last lecture, Randy Pausch):

Brick walls are there for a reason.
They let us prove how badly we want things.

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

There’s also some serious thinking going on about the future. My PhD contract/funding runs out, and I need to find another job. So, what do I want to do with my life? I would like to see whether I can make it in academia, instead of on the cusp of academia and industry (as I am now). I want influence on educational programs (or program, to start with), especially in psychology and/or human-technology interaction. I want to be able to teach in those fields as well, and preferably on a college/university level. Last but not least, I would also like to be able to do some research in the field. As a child, I wanted to make a real difference in how education was organized and done, not only on a high-level, but also on a low-level, standing before the class, interacting with students kind of thing. I wanted to be a minister of education. I still do, come to think of it.

Since post-doc grants are usually given out for research, it would be logical to start from there, and see what I can get done. Preferably a post-doc away from the country I’m in now, to learn How Things Are Done at other universities. So, while my slogan reminds me that the experience I will get is probably not what I wanted, it will still be experience, and I will come out as a (probably) different person. Getting a grant or a post-doc is my second brick wall at the moment. The first brick wall is getting the last experiments set up, and this PhD thesis all written out. For now, that’s what’s keeping me moving.

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