I feel like I have had a helluva past couple weeks. The combination of the imminent departure from Nashville of two women who are super-inspiring to me both scientifically and as friends, planning for and giving two presentations (one on my research, one leading a discussion for a first year grad course), my despair at things happening in the world, and hormones have made me feel INSANE. Sad and crabby and seriously hungry (have I mentioned that I eat my feelings?). What made it all worse was that the research talk that I gave on Monday basically reinforced an idea I’ve been having for a while that I’m on a directionless path to Science Nowhere.
This morning, this post appeared on one of my newly found favorite blogs, and it just feels perfect to share. April of Blacksburg Belle uses a vivid “elephant and rider” analogy and says that in order to stay motivated, we have to celebrate each small thing that goes in a positive direction for us (or each tiny step the elephant takes). So rather than dwell on my first paragraph, I want to share victories that happened this week: On Tuesday, I met with a PI that I really like in order to plan a course we’re teaching this summer and the minute he asked how things were going I couldn’t stop crying. He provided a paper towel for my tears and supportive listening ear for me. I got to see my counselor on Wednesday, which is almost always amazing. Thursday, I presented for my lab’s group meeting (super informal) and they gave me great advice on where to take my project so I can go toward Publicationville, which is on the way to PhD City. But the best part about this week is that I feel elated and ecstatic because the discussion that I prepared to lead for the first year course happened today and it was AWESOME. I felt well-prepared, the students were engaged and fun, we covered the material we needed to cover, and at the end of it I felt energetic and ready for the next challenge.
Sometimes the paths we’re on feel wrong, but I think that when we most need a nod that we’re going down the right one, we get it. It also doesn’t hurt to motivate your elephant by celebrating the baby steps along the way.