Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I am all out of clever titles. I will call this one "&?"

It’s yet another late evening for me, but the urge to write about grad school permeates my every thought and that thirst must be quenched before I meet the sandman.  Graduate education is, surprisingly, a hard earned lesson in politics, which is not something I’m good at if you have not noticed.  I’ve become privy to a few observations made about my character over the last few days. To sum it up: I’m unapproachable; lacking in confidence as a scientist; possibly flippant (I believe that was the particular word chosen); and maybe a few other things that I’ve yet to be informed of. (Cue deep inhalation.) Really? Me? Flippant? Ha!

 I’m a first year graduate student who has been inundated with a constant barrage of articles, books, discussions and presentations that remind me every single day of just how much I do not know.  I approach everything that I do with an honest perception of the knowledge I possess and that which I do not, and how that will benefit or hinder me. I think being unsure of one’s current abilities comes with the territory. I’ve got a lot to learn and I’m prepared to do it. But if I don’t know it, I don’t know it and I’m not going to pretend like I do.  I came to grad school because I wanted to expand upon my pool of knowledge. When in lab, it is my purpose to absorb as much as possible and be taught. I contribute when I can, but, for the most part, I want to make sure that I don’t mess up thousands of dollars worth of materials and waste anyone’s time, least of all mine. (Time is a hot commodity for any graduate student. You must hoard it like a dragon and claw out the eyes of anyone that tries to take too much of it. Or, you could use your lab time to create a 28 hour period. Your choice. )

I had no clue how to respond to being told that I lack confidence and am seemingly standoff-ish, so I said nothing…well, as much “nothing” as I’m capable of saying.  I’m not sure I can respond without somehow alienating someone that could potentially hold sway over my graduate career. It is very difficult knowing how sensitive some people are to blunt honesty.  The last few days have shown me that people hear what they want to hear, no matter how careful I am with my word choices. I worry how many times I’ve “offended” a peer or professor or lab mate because I wasn’t enough of a politician.  Unfortunately, these minor things could morph into major, life altering issues. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s happened – just look at our government or consider the recent media storm surrounding Juan Williams, former host on NPR.  Be careful of politics. You don’t have to play the game to be aware of it.

I’ve come to realize that for many scientists, perception is reality and, let’s face it, you can’t really call yourself a scientist if you don’t gather data, analyze it, weigh the evidence and THEN draw a conclusion.   So, audience, when you get to grad school (or are currently there trying to swim against the riptide), just remember who you are and try to stay true to that. Remind yourself every day of why you chose graduate school, and don’t let anyone’s “evidence” negatively influence you and detract from who you are at your core.

I am aware of who I am and what I am capable of, but maybe my sense of self-importance isn’t inflated enough for grad school.  Ah, well. Maybe in a few years I’ll be the pompous, arrogant bastard I’m supposed to be, but today, I’m just Neurosciencegeek. I can be honest to a fault and sarcasm is literally listed as second language on my resume.  I get excited when my boyfriend calls. I post in front of my television to watch Glee every Tuesday night. And I’m trying my very best not to drown in the flash flood that is grad school. I do not wear confidence on my sleeve.
I leave you with this quote: “That which yields is not always weak –“ Jacqueline Carey


  1. Be careful dear, I'm sure one is to take offense to the second sentence in the last paragraph and omit the rest of what you wrote

    I for one have read the entire blog and see your point very clear. So If I can be so blunt, and if I offend anyone, well such is life because you can't please everyone.

    Lacking in confidence hmmm, maybe a little but I only notice this when a big test is around the corner, I'm sure it's a defense tactic, for if things go wrong for example a bad grade then the let down is not so severe because you have not expected the best. Now if you get a good grade it's an extra bonus. As far as I can tell it's the only chink in your armor (smile)

    Unapproachable no, cautious yes and hell I raised you that way so "people who sleep with there mothers" (MF's) don't step to you with some bull$hit. You got daddy smarts, street smarts, and book smarts, don't change it's kept you safe all these years. Keep stepping the way you step, and move the way you move. Those who "WANT" to get to know you will. Those who don't will cast frivolous accusations and call it truth.

    Hell if you not dancing a jig or showing all your teeth...I don't even want to go there....

    As always babygirl, take what they said and use what you can use, whatever is left over let someone else identify with that human waste.

    Getting to know someone is a two way street, One say's hello or hi, and the other person repeats. If your spider senses start tingling then keep on stepping because there intentions are not good.

    I may be off target, but I'm just saying...

  2. A great man once said "I yams what I yams and that's all that I yams. Ah gah gah gahgah gah gah"

    Those are words that we all should live by. If someone feels that you don't show confidence then that's clearly their perception because those who know you know that when you are comfortable about something, you relay that in a non-braggart way.

    Just keep doing what you do and being who you are. Those who have gotten to know you, love you (and your sharp tongued, straight to the point, don't sugarcoat nothing, sarcasm lol). Those who don't want to know you... in the words of the Pope... SUCK!