I’ve never been one for attachment to physical things or buildings or houses, but closing the doors on a lab I’m very proud of was tough. I know it was the right move for my family and my research interests, but it was still kind of emotional to close the door for the last time. As we drove the many many many miles to our new home I was nervous the entire time while second- and third-guessing myself. I keep wondering if I only had whatever success I had because the program supported me. And going to a new interdisciplinary program with a lot of young faculty with aggressive research timeline to compete with (even though there are better collaborators) might make it tough to stand-out and get the best students.
I keep focusing on getting the right students because I keep thinking back to when I was taking the last couple years away from the lab for various reasons and my more prolific students were able to run with ideas and I was able to build off their work. More like a working partnership. Whereas my less prolific students were essentially useless without my hand holding. I don’t anticipate being away as much now, so I’m fine with hand-holding but I do prefer to hand-hold with my first and second year students; not my senior students.
On the emotional front, I don’t miss a lot of the school-related stuff since the school and program (and the state overall) were changing in really negative ways. But I just feel nervous almost like starting anew. When I first arrived at my old school I had to build a reputation, build respect, and learn to navigate the BS. I’ll have to do that again, though I’ll have my own large shoes to fill. I’m certain I could do it, but I don’t want to fade into obscurity shortly after rising nicely at the old school. My SO was saying to treat this experience differently. Paraphrasing: don’t try to rise, just be you. I need to learn to panic less.