Academia, Career, Thinking, Writing

A Scientist Goes Upstream

It’s blogging type of day, a friend of mine wrote. Truly, true. I suppose my life just got sucked into this deep dark pit of busy-ness. So, here I am sitting outside on the patio in the backyard, smoking a nice smoke, and reflecting on my career choice of becoming a scientist.

Absolutely, this has been the worst financial choice I could have made becoming a neuroscientist.

After graduate school, I continued on as a post doctoral associate, but after two years of struggle I quit. Just picked up my stuff, left the laboratory, and went into the industrial sector. My salary nearly tripled over-night (2.5x increase/yearly).

In a single year, I had paid off all my credit card debts and paid down a huge chunk of my college school tuition loans.

Then, the horror! I realized that I missed something. It slapped me upside the head like that idiot kid in high school who just comes up to you and slaps you, literally, on the back of the neck to say “hi”.

And so, there I was in my job as a professional writer and editor, running a small show in a commercial company business–doing quite well, I might add–and not feeling…complete.

There’s a song out there by Lady Gaga (who I am not a fan of, really), which has a line that goes “I was born this way”. So, it rings true for me, I realize when it comes to my chosen vocation and line of work.

I was born, created, as a scientist, to be a scientist. And, sitting in that cubicle made me realize that I had to continue in that line of work as a scientist to feel normal. Normal work was in a lab.

So I did it. I did what people don’t usually do. I went through the pipe in both directions. I was told people in academia field go downstream with the flow.

Academia —> Industry —> Industry —> Retire

Me? Unwise, unnatural choice? I’m a scientist who went against the flow, against the mainstream. We’ll see what’s around the river bend.

Academia —> Industry —> Academia —> ???

A salmon swims upstream

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4 thoughts on “A Scientist Goes Upstream

  1. mswestfall says:

    What I do know for sure in my years in the corporate world it isn’t the money that brings you joy even if it does pay the bills. It’s not even swimming with the big fish that’s exciting. Helping others…finding a cure…that is where you will make the biggest impact. Go where life wants you and where your heart leads you…at least your fins, gills and other body parts are intact. One day they might not be. Swim big fish…swim.

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