We're a little crazy, about science!

A leap of faith

Well I did something today that I will not be able to undo. Since I have a policy of honesty with this blog, I will admit that I’m scared. I don’t like taking risks, but I didn’t have a choice so now I’m going through the grieving process wondering if I’ve made the right call and how quickly I will end up regretting it. I had a choice, I made a choice, and now we wait. It’s a leap of faith, one I’m not sure I am ready to take.

Money. Why does it always come down to money? You always hear that money can’t buy happiness. I would bet that the people saying that have never had to worry about money. Money may not be able to buy happiness directly, but having a roof over your head and food in your stomach certainly makes a conducive environment for happiness. I’ve never been wealthy, but I have been homeless and I think I much prefer having a home than not. Back where my very existence was against the law and the fact that I needed to sleep somewhere an affront to society. Between the PTSD from combat or homelessness, I would take combat, but maybe that’s just me. Of course, if you haven’t done both I don’t really think you get an opinion here.

I had a choice. I could step backwards and do my study at the university I attend or I could take a leap and get hired on as a researcher at the hospital I’ve been a part of for the past few years. I took the leap. As of today I crossed a threshold that I cannot take back and decided that if they could hire me quickly enough that my time and efforts would be better spent at the hospital doing my research than being at the university full-time. My main-PI asked that I decide before noon today and I sent off the email letting him know that I will be taking the job. There is no going back, today was the deadline for him to give me a funded position in his lab, so this choice is irrevocable.

I’ve been reassured that I will still be a part of his lab, that I can continue my PhD and he will still be my “main-PI.” He’s been overly supportive and caring about this mess since we started talks just a few weeks ago. More so than I would’ve expected from him. Not that he isn’t caring, he’s just not a friend or family or someone I would expect to feel “obligated” to care. It’s nice and speaks volumes to why he’s been successful as a PI.

My Co-PI, who I guess would be my actual boss now, has also been supportive. He’s pushed everyone he could to get me hired before I can’t afford to live and while I do not have any promises from the HR at the hospital I was told it’s very likely going to happen in the next few weeks and I could get the job offer as early as today or Monday. That’s the hope anyway, I don’t even know how much they would pay me and the range of salaries is so broad that it makes me nervous not knowing for sure what I am getting myself into. I have two degrees, years of experience, and I’m the senior researcher in my Co-PI’s lab, so I’m hopeful that counts for something.

There’s a lot of unknowns and I really want this to work. I am scared and between now and when the ink dries I will probably have a lot of sleepless nights. Since I’ve been out of the military I have taken a very conservative approach to my life. I don’t like taking chances because they don’t ever seem to work out for me and mostly because my mental health doesn’t allow for anything but the most structured lifestyle possible. I like my consistency and while I can deal with change, it has to be a certain thing. This is unknown change, change that I’m not sure how to process or deal with. It’s something that I haven’t had to do in a long time.

Maybe that means my mental state is getting better, or maybe it means it’s getting worse, at this point i’m not sure. I want to believe that this will work out for me and that things will go smoothly. I hope that someday in the near future I will look back at this post and laugh for being scared. I hope that I will be so happy with my choice I won’t even bother thinking about looking back at this post. In short, I hope I’m making the correct choice.

I should know fairly quickly if it was the right choice or not. Things will either move fast or they won’t move at all, at which point I will be in some very serious trouble very quickly. The other key factor here is that I get my tuition covered though a program at my university. If I do not complete my PhD or have to drop out, say for not being able to afford the tuition, I will be forced to pay back all the money they have given me. That’s roughly $8k a term over three years, or about $50,000, more money than I currently make in a year. It would ruin me, like seriously ruin me for years to come and I may not even have the job at that point.

Plus my Co-PI is like 80% sure he’s leaving. I have another PI who’s lab I could work in, but he apparently doesn’t have the funds (at the moment anyway) to take me on. So the job may not even be a permanent thing. If my Co-PI does leave and the new PI who’s lab I would want to work in can’t take me, then I would basically be out of a job before I even really got settled in. Then I would have to cover my own tuition, living expenses, and figure out how to make any sort of money until Fall of next year. That assumes I can continue my PhD at all and I don’t get stuck with the $50,000+ bill I just mentioned .

Yeah now that I write all this out I’m wondering if I made the right choice. I’m probably being an idiot, but I really want this and I don’t know that I would’ve had another chance at doing this if I didn’t take it now. I’m not sure what will happen next, but I guess we’ll find out together.

Today, I took a leap.


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