Yesterday I finally had that moment where I realized I’m beginning to feel like me again.
Maybe you know what I mean. For quite a long time now–at least a year, if not closer to two–I’ve felt out of sorts with so many aspects of my life. I just didn’t feel like me, like the person I’d become over the preceding years in undergrad and grad school–and I rather liked that person. She spent hours thinking about a problem because the puzzle fascinated her. She was almost constantly soaking up new information. She knew when and how to stand her own. She trusted and respected her colleagues and mentor, even when she didn’t agree with them, even when she was royally pissed off with them. She valued and committed time to the things outside of the lab that kept her healthy and sane. She knew where she was going and had some idea of how to get there. She was often consumed by her work, but she didn’t mind most of the time because she truly enjoyed it. She was still an introverted, massive geek, but she was generally a fun person to be around.
This other person I’ve been… I haven’t particularly liked her. She let most everything that kept her sane and healthy go. She let her boss walk over her like she was his doormat. She rarely stood up for herself and was easily cowed. Desperate to make friends, she ignored that first gut instinct about the self-centered sleaze ball… until she let herself to be placed in a situation where true character was revealed. She had no passion, no fire for what she was doing. She had little confidence, drive, and optimism and far too much doubt, anger, and restlessness. She was, frankly, a train wreck and a miserable person to be around.
I’ve struggled over the past months to rediscover that person I was in grad school. It has definitely not been easy. I got a few false starts that died out. Now, I finally feel like I might be back on the right path. Some things are different. My ideas about where I’m going and how to get there are less clear now. That’s not such a bad thing because it’s forced me to think about plan B… and C, and I think it’s taught me to not anchor who I am to what I do so heavily. Sometimes I still feel a bit unfocused, but I’m getting there. I started implementing a more rigorous routine. I eat better, I drink less. For the moment, I have conquered the chaos of the apartment and am successfully combating entropy. My scientific curiosity and passion has been reignited. I’m looking forward to getting back to scientific questions that fascinate me. I’ve begun again to read papers, unrelated to current or future work, solely because they interest me. I’ve even started working on my research bible for my next project. I’m running consistently now. I went out for nearly an hour yesterday–just me, the road, some music–and I was happy to be by myself. I’m starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.
It just feels good to start feeling like myself. I’m going to try very hard not to lose that person again.