Face it – our decision to go to grad school is often the butt of jokes (See 30 Rock or The Simpsons, for reference), but nevertheless, I absolutely love it. I love it so much I actually told my advisor that I was “blessed to be here” (Not happy about the word choice here, but I still agree with the sentiment).
Don’t get me wrong. Grad school can still be shitty at times. Like, really shitty. I will not lie and say I was not bawling a couple weeks ago and at a point of wanting to quit. There is CONSTANT self-doubt. There is networking, public speaking, long hours, responsibility, jealousy, impostor syndrome, etc. etc. etc. and sometimes just a generous load of good ole fashioned hard work.
However, when you are falling asleep at the lab bench or going through a difficult time, you just need to remind yourself why you are here. If your answer is, to get a degree, to “avoid the real world”, or learn techniques for industry – then you might have gone into grad school for the wrong reason (IMHO). And of course my opinion is wrong for some people, so let me say this – you probably are not going to be as happy as those of us who came here for another reason. Those of us who came here for science or in other words, to increase our understanding of our world.
I have loved science for a long time (aka – I cannot remember a time when I have not), but a recent reminder of this passion hit me when I was watching a 3D movie at the Field Museum about mummies. Random, I know. The movie was about trying to find the secrets about mummification and the steps in the process. So cool, right? How super interesting/what an awesome question/something I would be curious about as well! When the movie focused in on the person who was working on this question, I thought, this guy gets to spend all day, gets paid to ask questions about ancient Egyptians and gets to work on answering them. How awesome is that? Our innate curiosity, our innate questioning, our innate experimentation – is his career.
And that is science. That is my job. And that’s why I think it is pretty much the bestest thing ever and why I think I’m so incredibly “blessed” to be able to do it. (Seriously)
(Not the point of the post, but other super awesome things about graduate school: independence, responsibility, freedom, flexible hours, inclusion into a group of like-minded people, being in an academic atmosphere, opportunities to meet/hear talks by amazing scientists, etc. . Also note that many of those super awesome things can also be super sucky things at the wrong time in life. And again, I’m not saying grad school is easy – but it is definitely not the worst decision you can make in your life. Which is not voting, by the way. )