I’m usually of the attitude of taking life in-stride and having a grand time. At least appearing that way. At some point it’s tough to keep the facade going. I feel like every year I’ve lived has been better than the last; a few decades going. This year has been tough.
Back in industry this year things got nuts because of a couple projects that were priority projects and I needed to ensure things were good to pass on. Then I took a crazy salary cut and left that life along with all of my friends. Setting up my lab, finding students, getting into teaching, writing grants, etc. has been kicking my ass big time. My personal life has taken a hit. Though, living in a new town (a college town) with few friends right now makes his hit to my personal life a little easier to handle. Then a close family death hit and I was traveling back and forth to handle death-matters. Then I started to get migraines. I haven’t had migraines for 5 years. This eats into my productivity since I have trouble sleeping then I have to work longer to make up for it. It’s a horrible cycle. And having a small supporting network (my spouse) makes things tough. I had no idea how lonely the professor-existence is. And since I’m in a college town, the population diversity is practically non-existent. Still looking for new besties. I industry I was surrounded by my peers so I made a lot of friends easily. Everyone here appears to be on an island.
I was busier than the average person in industry when I ran my previous lab. I travel less now, but it’s no comparison: I work more now. A lot more. I wish these personal things would’ve popped up when I was in industry since I had more free time. I really can’t wait for the semester (and year) to wind down. I know that winter break is a great time to get things done, but fuck it, I’m taking personal time off for a couple weeks. I just need to get to the end of this year with minimal bleeding. I knew this was going to kick my ass, but I never planned for these personal things.
So I’m not ending on a negative, I’ve gotten three grants: two reasonably big ones and one kind of smaller one. Two are major nonprofits (hint: Federal agencies), and one’s from my old company. In addition, mentoring my lab students has been so freaking rewarding and my students in-class are insanely well receptive. They’re engaged and smart. I haven’t developed any new collaborations I really want to continue to pursue, but there are a few prospects. Earlier this week I got a World’s Best Advisor* mug (those that read PhD comics know what I’m talking about). And this Thanksgiving I’m having some of my students and other students in our department over for a meal and some games.
3 thoughts on “Jeez, this sure is lonely and time-consuming”
First of all — congratulations! Two federal grants already — you are a rock star!
And I am sorry for your loss…
But yes, the professorial life is both very busy and very lonely. C’est la vie.
You’ll get used to it and become more aware of the perks, like working with students and carving your own research agenda. Hang tight, it gets better.
Wow! That’s so early to have gotten grants! Most starting faculty barely have their lab set up! Did you start early? Do you have any advice for other starting professors?
Thanks for the condolences. I’m sure things will even out this was just a lot more stressful than anticipated.
I started working on grants and even submitted some last spring. If you read my old blog you’d remember that I lined up a faculty job a year before I started. I was able to set up a lab, start moving, find housing, etc far in advance. In addition I had a lot of time to fine tune my first round of grants. In addition, the large one from industry was pretty much set up before I even resigned. So no advice other than just put in a shitload of time.