The week ahead
Well the next two weeks are shaping up to be interesting. I’ve got a lot of the onboarding stuff to get out of the way for my new job (yay!) and I’m still juggling two different papers basically full-time. Considering those two things are really the only stuff on my plate at the moment things feel pretty good, sort of anyway. There’s still a lot of mental health stuff going on and I’m just feeling overwhelmed with the choices I’ve made so far. So what’s the game plan for the week look like? Let’s talk about it.
Okay so first up the job update. I’ve officially got a start date, cleared my background check, and have my health appointment coming up. This puts me ahead of schedule to start right on time and since I cannot start early, I would rather be ahead of schedule than behind schedule. As it stands now, things will be tight and money will be even tighter. I really don’t want to lose the little stability I have, so I’m working to get everything the hospital needs from me done as quickly as they send it to me. In hindsight starting this process when historically my mental health goes right into the toilet probably wasn’t the best idea, but the school schedule just happens to coincide with my bad mental health month(s), go figure.
Then we have the journal papers situation. Right now I’m first author on four journal papers getting worked on simultaneously. One of them is off and should (in a perfect world) be ready to publish. I’m hopeful that at least that particular paper is done and over now so I can focus on the other three. Really right now I’m only focused on two of those papers though.
One of the papers is with my former PI. We’ve submitted this thing multiple times to multiple journals and even though I think we’re close, I haven’t heard from him in a few months. I plan on reaching out again soon, but honestly I am so overwhelmed with that paper and its lukewarm reception that I almost want to say screw it and not submit it. It’s a good paper too, the reviewers always seem to want more from us though and it’s frustrating because a lot of time and effort went into that project.
That paper is for the robot I designed and built. Trust me when I say that alone was a ton of work and my collaborator literally thought I was getting my PhD from the project because it was just that much work. The journals seem to think we should do more testing, control the robot, make it walk over stuff, etc. I believe the design process itself was the innovation and we tested the properties of the joints of this robot for the paper and found them to be superior to some other designs. In any case, they want more and I don’t have more to give them since I’m no longer in that lab.
The two papers I’m focusing on this week are the ones for my current lab(s). My Co-PI and I did a series of experiments that I thought were super cool and he let me be first author on the project (here). It’s a huge deal for me because this is going to be seriously impressive work and the stuff we found is amazing. I’m super thrilled to have my name attached to this paper and as we progress in the writing things are only getting better.
My Co-PI is very hands on with the project and I appreciate that because if I get stuck he can help out or he quickly gives me his feedback on the work I’ve done. This week I hope to wrap up 95% of the paper and we can just get to the final touches on making it look good. There are still a few issues to address, which means figures will change and some of the discussion will need to be modified to address those changes, but overall we’re getting very close to being done with this paper and I’m very excited.
Lastly we have the other paper that I’m working on this week. It’s for the project I wasn’t super thrilled about, but I managed to win an award for it (here). It’s a good experiment and the whole project was interesting, it just wasn’t the type of stuff to get me up in the morning, if that makes sense. It’s great science, it just didn’t align with what I found interesting so it felt like the project just sucked the life out of me. In a lot of ways it did, there was issues left and right, the dataset was super challenging to work with. I had never done the analyses that I was using for this project. There was a ton of code that I had to custom write for this. It was a lot.
The good news is we’re near the end of that project as well. I have the full draft of the manuscript written and waiting for review from my main-PI. There’s still the supplementary materials I need to create, mostly just a bunch of figures, but interestingly enough, some video as well. I’m hoping that will go quick, but I haven’t really started it and it’s sort of stressing me out since there is quite a bit of work that needs to get done for some of it. There will probably be a lot of code writing for some of this as well. I found some ways to improve one of the processes to speed things up, but that means I need to rewrite a bunch of the code I wrote. On one hand it will make this go faster, on the other it may be just as quick to do it the long way without making the change. I think I would rather make the changes and have the code for future use though.
Basically the next week will be a lot of writing, writing the papers, writing code, just a bunch of writing. For the past six months or so I’ve had all this stuff just sitting there waiting for me to finish it. I’m actually at the point of checking things off my list and being able to claim they are done. It feels weird, but exciting. Things just kept building up and getting a chance to finish a project for once will be a nice change of pace.
I mean as we have seen in my writings, my mental health is awful. I mean most days it’s a struggle just to get up in the mornings. The added weight of all these responsibilities I didn’t feel like I was ever going to get anywhere. Things just never got done, deadlines kept getting closer, more stuff was being given to me. The pressure was just enormous and I’m still wondering if I’ve made the right choices in my life to be here where I am now.
Seeing some progress has helped make me feel a little better about everything. I’m not okay and I don’t things will ever really be okay, but I have to admit finishing a project feels really good.