About three years ago, before I started the PhD venture and I was still “just” doing my masters I thought to myself, regarding the PhD, what’s everyone complaining about? It’s not that bad, right? You get paid to do research, most of which is in front of a computer. You get paid to go to conferences in interesting places. You don’t have to grow up yet. You get student benefits even though you are gettin’ up there in age 😉 … and to me a lot of people are saying (myself included in the early stages) … you get to study clarinet acoustics, what you’ve wanted all along, you get to be in FRANCE!
Let me just tell you the real truth, one you’ve heard your whole life … a PhD (including one with the opportunity to be abroad like I am) is a whole heck of a lotta “The grass looks greener on the other side”.
When I was finishing up my masters and getting kinda antsy about the whole research thing, I wasn’t sure if it was research I wasn’t into (the academic type), if it was school, the specific subject or if I was just plain lazy (likely!). Then I got the chance to do a PhD in what I thought was my dream field … clarinet acoustics. I found a lab to work with in France and of course, all stary-eyed and naive, thought it was going to be perfect and thrilling and fulfilling EVERY day during this 3-year PhD adventure. Well, let’s just say that recently I have been left unfulfilled by my work. I am bored and tired of what I am doing. I am stuck on something in particular that is keeping a paper from getting submitted for publication. I am constantly searching for job offers, even though I know I won’t quit the PhD
I think that after 20+ years of education I should be able to find a career that I enjoy and look forward to every day. I know that’s a lot to ask perhaps in today’s economy. But I think it’s important. If we are going to spend, as I said, 20+ years in school to get a PhD in a very specific subject shouldn’t I have some sort of choice and a time to figure these things out?
I am getting WAY ahead of myself. I know I know I know there are still over 2 years until I have that lovely piece of paper that gives me the right to, completely in secret, call myself Dr. Whitney 😉 but I am getting antsy again. I don’t feel excited about my work and I don’t think I would look forward to a future in this specific field. That’s scary…right? I mean, I picked up and moved all the way to France to do this and it’s still not all peachy keen? What is wrong with me. It must be the lazys.
I guess it scares me to think that no matter what I choose. No matter how awesome it seems on paper … I could get bored. I could hate it. I am 27, still a student…I haven’t even entered the workforce and I am already a pessimist. I have a few people around me who have recently started working and love it but there are an overwhelming number who go to their job everyday and aren’t happy, excited, motivated nor interested in the work that they do.
So once again, from the outside, what I am doing is cushy … and I agree, it is. I am not doing manual labor. I can afford my rent, my groceries and travel. I have a great support system of people (researchers, colleagues, parents, friends, etc.) who are rooting for me to succeed. So where can I find the motivation to rock this dissertation research out? Where can I find a little more certitude that some day, perhaps not right away, but some day, I will find my niche and succeed in finding a career that I can enjoy and flourish?
enough whining (for now). I should get back to work 🙂
Feel free to leave comments telling me about your own PhD (or other) woes in career search and whatnot … I like to know when I am not alone!