We're a little crazy, about science!

The stress of change

When I think of change, I think of fall. Maybe it’s an apt time for a change in my life then.

I’m used to things changing. In fact, when things are static it’s actually slightly scary because I never had a stable life growing up. Things were always in flux, from what state I lived in to what school I went to, every few years it was time for a huge change. But things are different now and I prefer consistency, I try to live a structured life. Even if the only reason I do is to keep things simple because I feel like I’m constantly rushing around trying to get stuff done for my degree.

I’m an anxious person. I know this about myself, I try to warn people about this when I work with them, things stress me out. Mostly I don’t like being late, or failing at something. I think most people can relate to that. Between the drive to accomplish stuff and my PTSD/depression/chronic anxiety, etc., life can be exhausting! However, because I know this about myself I structure the way I live. I plan my meals, I schedule everything on my calendar, I have an app on my phone that reminds me when I need to get something done. I arrange my life so I don’t have to keep track of everything in my head because it would be too much. I don’t need to worry about that when I plan things out in advance. It saves me a lot of time and energy and if I’m being perfectly honest there’s comfort in it.

However, just a few short days ago I threw a giant wrench into all my plans. It’s not something I typically would do, but these were unusual circumstances. I do all my research in a hospital. I absolutely love it, I love helping people, I love the people I work with, and the environment I’m in. It’s amazing and it made me realize that academic research wasn’t the only route I could take. Research in a hospital is just amazing!I can’t think of a better way of describing it.

However, I’m a PhD candidate not an employee. I do my research there because of the dual appointment I got when I was awarded a two year fellowship. A two year fellowship that ended this month. Which meant I had a choice to make. I could go back to research strictly at the school. I could try to split my time between the two places again, but my main-PI (due to COVID) said that wasn’t exactly an option. Or I could be hired on at the hospital as a researcher.

The last option meant I would either need to be hired as an employee or a contract would need to be made between my university and the hospital. Basically it was either be hired as an employee or extend the fellowship. I knew what I wanted and I knew what my Co-PI was offering, he wanted to hire me and being a poor college student I really wanted a normal paycheck while I finished the last few years of my degree (call me greedy, but we get paid pretty poorly). In either case I would still be doing my PhD research, so it wouldn’t big change there.

But of course life had to be a pain and my Co-PI was offered another job (here). That wouldn’t be until the next year so I needed to pick, get hired on and hope that I could find a new lab or that my Co-PI miraculously decided to stay. Or I could go back to the university.

Fast forward to Friday when I took the leap (here) and I just decided to trust somehow that everything would work out for the best. I wish I had an update on how that’s going, but I do not! Instead I’m stuck dealing with the knot of stress in my chest while I wait for the official timeline to be hired on. After this month I will no longer be getting a paycheck, so I need to start my new job ASAP. The timeline to be hired is 4-6 weeks though so I’m cutting it incredibly close. Outrageously, dangerously, this could really screw with my living situation close.

For the past few days I’ve alternated between excited and scared. I’m hopeful it will go well and that I will get hired on in time, but then I only have a few months after that to figure out what the next step is, so it’s just one thing after another. The next few months are going to be a lot of changes and most of them will depend on things that are far outside of my control. I have no power here, I have no plans, I just need to adapt to the stuff as it comes up.

I don’t like having to do that anymore, I’m tired of having to adapt to survive, I just want a chance to live for a minute and be “normal” or whatever the hell people do when they aren’t busy trying to keep a roof over their head. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m tired of being tired all the time. I’m optimistic things will work out. But in the meantime I’m stuck just trying to live with this feeling and I don’t particularly like it. I hate waiting for a result, especially when it could really hurt me.

Anyway today I’m just trying to hold on. I thought I would be hearing back today about the job, but it hasn’t happened… yet. There’s still time, so maybe later today, who knows. I think I’ll feel better once things are set more firmly, right now I don’t have a job, I have the promise of a job in 4-6 weeks, maybe longer, maybe shorter. I don’t even know the pay yet, all I have is a range and the range is so large that it may not work out in my favor. Then of course I need to figure out my backup lab plans basically as soon as I’m hired on. So yeah just one huge mess because I wanted something better for myself.

With time maybe things will feel better, or maybe I’ll feel worse, but at least I’ll know what’s going on with my life and even if it’s bad news, just knowing has to count for something.


2 responses

  1. I know exactly how you feel. I have been a ressearch coordinator for 30 years. I’ve been in lots of situations where the grant ran out or problems came up. It never seems to end, This new job I have I ran into problems with the PI that complained I sent him too many emails.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 16, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    • Oh wow. On one hand I’m glad my situation isn’t rare. On the other I’m a little scared that it’s that common. On a side note, research coordinators are amazing and nothing would get done without people like you, so thank you!


      August 17, 2021 at 10:14 am

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