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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Theme

Sorry for the lack of an entry in April. A long series of failing experiments put the dampers on any motivation I had.
However, failing experiments is something many scientists will encounter during their career. Failed attempts at obtaining funding and failed attempts at obtaining a tenured position are also rather common. How do scientists (you) deal with failure?

May Theme - Post 1

Entry 1 - Failure is a massive fear for me. This shouldn’t be too surprising as I think most people who are in graduate school are accustomed to succeeding, at least in some aspect of their lives. On the other hand, my fear of failure is a bit surprising to me mostly because I have failed several times at this point. There have been numerous times just in grad school that I have felt certain I would succeed and then tasted the salty smack of a giant fail whale to the face. Yet, I eventually got back up. I’m still here, still moving (sloooowly) through. When I think back to how I dealt with that and investigate what kept me going, I think that my reactions mostly come from a stubborn pride.
I don’t have many memories of being surrounded by cooing adults telling me every turd I produce was gold, so I’m not quite sure where this indomitable idea that my eventual success is inevitable came from. It seems almost genetic at times, something I inherited from my mother... a will to go on, no matter what happens. Despite this will, which has served me well, I still fear failure. It still hurts even though it has yet to be a death knell for my career.
I guess I figure that at each new level in life, the stakes get bigger, the task more challenging and at some point my stubbornness will cave and I’ll just say, “Screw it! It’s not worth it!” How do I know if that breaking point exists? How do I know when it will come?