Monday, November 17, 2008
Life of a working man + Fame = Uncertainty
Several things on my mind right now.
1) Applying to graduate schools after graduating from undergrad is hard. I don't have reliable or significant access to advisors and faculty members to help me wade through the conventions and intricacies of this process. I'm not in a setting where I get to spend my days thinking and talking about science with other students. Most of the people I work with are quite content at the end of the day to hang out, have a good meal, and enjoy life. All of which are lovely things, but it makes me want to come home after a long day at work and just hang out and eat and shoot the breeze. When I really should be reading journal articles, emailing professors, and writing and thinking about the things that I want to do. It's sooo hard to get motivated - just sitting back and enjoying life is a whole lot more pleasant than pushing into the science mindset at 8 pm at night. And my house ends up being the gathering place for our group, because we have the most tables and chairs (even though I'm currently sleeping on a camping mattress and using furniture made out of boxes in my bedroom). I enjoy playing host, but it's hard to disappear or opt out of an event when it's happening in two of the five rooms in your apartment.
2) Famous people. There are a number of ecologists on my graduate "hit list" that I have been encouraged to contact about PhD positions. At this point, most of the ones remaining are the really top notch, famous sorts, mostly because I've been avoiding emailing them. This is for complicated reasons that aren't so clear to me in my head, or beneficial to me in all likelihood. I guess mostly it's a combination of distrust of people that are famous, and the worry that if I were to work with them, expectations for my work would be extraordinarily high, potentially a lot higher than I might actually be capable of working. Especially given the challenges I've been having getting my act together recently. I feel like my current showing on paper makes me look a lot stronger than I am, which intensifies this worry. Also, I don't like that my heart starts pounding and my tongue stops working when I think/talk about these people, makes me feel shallow. Argh.
I got an email response from one of these folks today. It was very vague. Sounded positive, but left me without a clue as to how to respond/move forward. Another one of them has asked me in the past to consider him for grad school, after I turned down a job he had offered me (long story). I really don't like how easy it is to sort of slip into hero-worship mode when I interact with these people. I can't help but wonder if this would be something that I would get over, or if it's more of an innate part of my being (Scary).
And the job market is scary, even from this far off. Maybe I should place more emphasis on trying to work with a big name, and just get over my apprehension with regards to famous people. So that someday I can have a job, and take evenings off on occasion and not fret about it.