It’s been a while. I’ve been feeling stifled, sad, overwhelmed at work and by my feelings (I just have so many). Every time I thought of a blog post to write, I felt guilty for not doing work or getting chores done, and nothing I could have written about seemed important enough.
I’ve been struggling for a while with the desire to have a baby, which I am feeling very intensely, the need to finish my PhD, and the unknown of how I’m going to balance work and life in the future. I really had myself convinced that what I wanted was to leave academia and science and be a mom. I highly esteem parents, and I want to do my very best at being one. I’ve said it before, but I think my greatest contribution to the world will be to raise socially and environmentally conscious kids. Couple these beliefs with the feeling that most scientists aren’t valued for anything besides science, and I was pretty sure that I would/could not stay in the field.
But I was really struggling with the thought of leaving science and academia and I didn’t know why. Was it because I was worried about disappointing everyone who has invested in me along the way? For me, this was not a good enough reason: what matters is how I feel, and as hard as it is to perceive or internalize others’ negative opinions about your choices, no way should I make a decision for someone else. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t feeling unsure about the choice not to pursue a career based on other people, but that may still be too tough to untangle. It’s really difficult, as a highly social, sensitive person, for me to function completely autonomously, and I don’t think I ever will.
I thought really hard about why I was feeling the way that I was and worked on it in counseling, but it became clear to me while I was at the Society for Developmental Biology meeting this past weekend that I don’t want to leave science. The Society for Developmental Biology is unlike any scientific group that I’d interacted with before in that they really seem to respect teaching as scholarship and not just as something that we do because we have to. Over the course of the four day meeting, there was an education poster session, discussion session, and practical session, during which there were no other events scheduled. Attending those sessions felt exciting and inspiring because there were so many people there who cared about teaching developmental biology. I loved it and I want to be a part of that group of people. The way to make that happen remains to be seen, and how I’ll balance my work and life is another story, but now I feel like I know what I’d like (at least today).