Just left #sfn16 and as always it was lovely to have the opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones. This was my 14th SFN meeting, and the second I attended after I left academia. I still get a lot of “how are you enjoying your new job”, but this year I heard from more than one person that I seem happy. And lighter.
And they are right. I am happy, but overall, I am a happy person and I do my best to adapt to new situations. And I was particularly happy to have this break from all the election’s anxiety. But during this meeting, a couple of people reached to me looking for advice, comfort, or to discuss leaving academia. Met a few listeners from our #RecoveringAcademic podcast and that was great! It is really rewarding to see that we are making a contribution to the field, and to those academics that are struggling to find a direction to go.
But that made me think: Who am I to give advice to those people? I’ve been there before, so I can share my experience, my history (and I’m happy to do so). But part of me feels like I don’t have my shit together (yet?) and make me feel like an impostor. Last week after the election results I’ve spent a good time looking for jobs abroad. After giving some thought, I realized I shouldn’t leave and give up everything I fought hard to get. I’ve been in the US for 9 years, and despite being extremely sad, disappointed, and afraid – running away is not the best option. Attending to SFN was a bittersweet experience. This year I tried to do more networking related to my actual job, but still had my itinerary filled with posters from my past research. When I’m there in the middle of a poster session from the topic I’ve worked from 20 years, I just can’t avoid feeling a bit nostalgic. Also, another part of me feels pathetic for still wanting to attend to those meetings, as if this is a frivolous attempt to hold to a life that’s not mine anymore. I am happy with my job. But I also miss neuroscience and everything that is involved with that.
Now I traveled to one of my company’s training and the anxiety of having to face my (mostly) republican co-workers is killing me. I’ve thought about giving an excuse and not attending. But I have to be professional, I have to attend, and I will have to work hard on my poker face during this meeting. It’s not going to be easy, and part of me feels it’s going to be a real test to see if I can keep going on this path or if I should made this a layover towards something else. Let’s see.