Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"QH": "I basically got fired."

This story is from QH; their story has been redacted for privacy and clarity by CJ:
[Recently] I left grad school with my M.S. after [3+] years of trying to work toward my doctorate. Things got progressively worse over time and I kept telling myself "this is bottom. now I'll bounce back." but I never did.

When I started grad school, I had already begun a successful research career as an undergraduate. When weighed against having to fight to get an entry-level job with medical benefits, versus the generous recruitment package laid out for me and the chance to get the prestigious degree, it was easy to see why I started.

I got lost along the way, though. All of the what I considered to be ancillary details (mostly computer programming in [various languages]) became a large focus of my day-to-day and was a terribly mind-numbing experience. Also, I lost faith in what I was doing. I'm rather proud of my two papers, but it just seemed so very small, and it was hard to see how what I was doing would ever be of any real help to anyone.

As things went on, my thought process shifted from "I'm going to become a player in this burgeoning field and make a name for myself" to "I'm just going to get out some papers, get the degree, and then move on to something else" to "I'm going to try to not get fired today."

It became increasingly difficult to be in the office without having panic attacks, or even to check my emails. This was despite being in [redacted] therapy a week for my anxiety and depression. At one point last year I was hospitalized [for a number of days] because I kept having disturbing thoughts about hurting myself. Even then, I didn't think about quitting.

Eventually, I basically got fired. My boss told me should would not support me come [further]. Luckily, we had set up a full-time TA position for [for the following term] which allowed me to plan my exit. I don't know what it would have taken for me to quit; I've never quit anything or really failed at anything before, and my self-esteem was so wrapped up in being a success.

But, as soon as I started to talk to my boss about getting out, I started to feel better. Every day I am realizing how much I have given up, and how my imagination had atrophied. I realize that there are so many things that I can do now. A friend asked me recently "what is my dream job?" Now I'm working on finding an answer to that question, starting by applying for anything I think I might get hired for.
Thanks to QH for their story.  

1 comment:

  1. As someone with a rather similar experience: Do not count out chemistry as your dream job. A lot depends on finding the right work environment, and finding a job that minimizes the things that you cannot handle.

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