It’s been a few months since I last wrote. There isn’t much that has happened, to be quite honest. I started graduate school and am nearing the end of my first rotation. I have two more before I choose my thesis lab and am officially admitted into the program I am in. Then, it will be preparing for qualification exams, teaching, and applying for grants, fellowships, conferences, teaching certificates, etc.
What has been hardest for me hasn’t been classes or finding time to do research. It is challenging to be in two graduate courses, attending seminars and journal clubs weekly, and fitting in a full schedule of research but it has been manageable. What is the hardest is approaching somebody I respect and would be honored to be mentored by and telling them that hey, I want to join your lab and while I know you have three other rotation students coming in the next two quarters, don’t forget me alright? I am not one to speak up for myself and make it known what I want. The last time I really did that was high school and that ended up in a really bad situation (let’s just say I ended up scared of returning to my parent’s place). I don’t like to advocate for myself out of fear and the profession I have chosen to pursue is one that requires one to not be silent and to put oneself out there. Conflict much?
Regardless, rotations have been stressful. Finding your own rotation for winter quarter while making sure you don’t step on your classmate’s toes but also making sure you get what you want is a tricky thing to balance.
I wish I had something more profound or better to say but currently, with very little time left in what I consider the most crucial rotation I can have, nothing really makes sense anymore. I am terrified with the prospect of not being able to join any lab, as I am an incredible liability to anybody who takes me on. More than that, I am not a very strong scientist, one that cannot perform experiments properly and cannot analyze data or read the literature. Why am I in this graduate program then? That is a very good question. I am not sure and I wonder if I will ever find out.