The long goodbye
It’s not official, but it kind of is… my Co-PI and I will be parting ways unfortunately. On one hand I’m happy for him, he’s found a better opportunity to help him grow and progress his career. We don’t do research for the money, but we do it for the adventure. We do it for the help we can give people. We do it for the discoveries and friends we make along the way. He has a chance to grow and it looks like he’s taking it. We worked together for over two years now and I didn’t expect it to be coming to a close anytime soon, but plans change and I need to change with it.
The frustrating part about all this is that I consider him a friend, we were a little lab family and that’s coming to an end. We worked with him, not for him, so we all grew close. I had planned and re-planned my life over the last few years around the idea that he was going to be a central part of it for the foreseeable future. I genuinely enjoyed working with him and being a part of his lab, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do now.
Nothing is set in stone yet and things could still change, but the fact of the matter is that even if he signed the contract tomorrow, he wouldn’t be leaving until after the new year. Hence the title of the post. It’s like watching a slow trainwreck. You know it’s coming, you see it, but you can’t stop it. So unless something drastic changes our days of working together are numbered. Since I still have roughly two years left for my PhD, that means I’m getting left behind and although he’s made several reassurances I’ll always have a spot in his lab, I cannot easily pack up and uproot my life. It’s not like it used to be, I’ve grown roots and I’m tied down a bit, even if it’s mostly superficial.
I’m sort of sad about how this all turned out. I was hoping my good luck would hold and he would end up staying and I could go back to having everything planned. This also means that my funding situation is still up in the air and I need to come up with a solution quickly. I have some backup ideas about that, but things need to be figured out somewhat quickly so it’s all a matter of getting it done before the clock runs out. I only have the next month to figure it out before I will no longer get paid and… well let’s just say that would be bad.
So yeah everything is changing and not necessarily for the better. I don’t know what will happen next, but in the meantime there are still a few months to get things wrapped up and figured out in terms of finding another lab that I may do clinical research in. Then there’s the whole pay issue, but since that’s an upfront issue (as in need to figure out now) at least that will be dealt with quickly, even if it isn’t the best news. There is already an option for funding, but I would be taking a pay cut on a very small paycheck as it is, so I want to avoid that if possible, but that would be the worst case situation.
The lab issue is the more complex problem. On one hand I don’t want to go back to my home (main) lab because I like doing clinical research. Moreover, the setting makes it easier for me to collect the data I need to gather, making this the best environment for me to finish my PhD in. Because I’m still working on my dissertation proposal I still haven’t collected THE dataset yet. THE dataset (emphasis on THE) will be the dataset I use for my dissertation defense, it will be the thing that lets me graduate. So collecting that will be just as important as writing the actual dissertation. I was excited about the prospect, but now I’m nervous because I need to find a lab to get this done in or I may have to do it at my main lab with my main-PI (who will now possibly be my only PI!) which would make things difficult because they aren’t set up to do the work we need to get done.
All this to say that I’m nervous. I don’t like change when I can help it. I’ve had far too much change for one lifetime, but it looks like I don’t get a say in any of that, which sucks, but that’s where we are. I’m hopeful things will end well, but I probably won’t know for another few weeks minimum about how things will turn out and if I can somehow manage to come out on top of all this. Put more bluntly, it’s a little scary and I no longer have any idea about what things will look like for me next year, much less next month.
Goodbyes are hard, but long goodbyes in some ways are worse. I’ll miss my Co-PI, but for now I’m just trying to keep my head above water.