Existential Crisis

I don’t know exactly how it started, but suddenly I started to feel very unmotivated. Twitter is awesome because you meet so many friends willing to help, but also can bring your mood down when you have access to so much information… Talking to a friend on Skype I learned about the RU/VH type of University and went to check my 10 applications. 9 out of 10 are in RU/VH institutions. Then I saw this on twitter:

@AntiLabUCF From our latest search: top candidates ave: ~4 yrs post doc, 17.5 pubs, 1-2 PNAS/Sci/Nat, 5-10+ 1st author, $, fit job descript

Then I felt like... Fuck. I’m nowhere near this description, I have 8 years of PD, 15 publications and none of them in glam journals. No funding yet (although I submitted my very first R03 – low expectations). From the 10 applications I’m submitting only one is a perfect fit. Meh. It’s going to be hard to get a job this season… So I was talking to @IHStreet on Twitter and he told me he was giving up the idea of getting a TT position because he was choosing LIFE! And although our conversation put a bug in his head (see his blog post here), he also put a big big bug into my head! Is this really what I want for my life? This craziness of writing grants no stop, of having to adapt your research to something more appealing, the paranoid of becoming tenure…

I realized I spent too much time of my PD years just focused on personal life and not caring about what I wanted professionally. It’s not that I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I was just waiting to see what was going to happen. When I finally woke up it was already kind of too late. Now I am trying to fill the holes of my CV, but as Jack Bauer would say “I’m running out of time”! And to put the cherry on the top, in our last lab meeting our PI told me and the other PDs to start looking for jobs because he thinks that our R01 has little chance to be renewed. The alternative would be to bring new things to our grant. New techniques! But for that we need preliminary data but we don’t have a lot of time or money. So it feels like we have no way out.

And now I start to freak out because I’ll probably be jobless in an year from now. And although I really think I want my own lab, where I can have my students and do my research, I feel like it’s a fairy tale that it’s not going to happen. IHStreet also mentioned that 80% of PDs will not end up in tenure track jobs. And now I regret that I didn’t apply to all those tiny teaching positions of my list. Time to look for alternatives? I believe in the end I know that I still want a TT position. I just wished that it was easier to get one and to have a life along with it!