Last weekend, I took fate into my own hands. I renewed my lease, thus declaring my intention to say in College Station until August 2014 or thereabouts.
Some of you may recall that I’ve been in a state of career limbo for over a year and a half now. 18 months is a long time to feel uncertain about your future—it gets old pretty fast. The reason for this uncertainty has to do with the way that NIH funds projects and the way that my project in particular has unfolded. Generally speaking, people get “new” funding for a project when that project is in its final stages before publication. In other words, they get funding when the bulk of work is already done, which suggests to me that NIH’s funding mechanisms are very conservative: risky projects don’t get funding. NIH seems to actively avoid risk, which means that researchers have to leap into risky projects without a net. My project exists because I (and my boss) was (were) willing to take a big risk. We absorbed the risk. And we submitted grants for funding, two of which were rejected last year and a resubmission which is now in the system for review. Without getting into the nitty-gritties about NIH grants, I’ll say that I am optimistic that we’re going to get funding this time. That’s the first reason I renewed my lease.
The second reason is that my big goals this year are to finish two big projects: my first-author paper and the Detroit Marathon. Those things are substantial, time-consuming projects, and I want to focus on my energy on them, not on moving and finding a new apartment. Simplicity, friends. I like simplicity.
The third reason is that I’ve grown very tired of not knowing certain basic things, like where I’ll be living in a year. I am a planner by nature, and not having a plan, a basic outline of sorts, causes me a lot of stress and discomfort. I thrive with structure and routines in my life; spontaneity is not my strength. I don’t have every minute of every day planned in advance, but I have an idea of what the days will look like. By renewing my lease, I have ensured some stability in my life, and it makes me feel better to be done with that decision. Obviously, if the grant is not funded and I don’t stay in my current position, I will be job-hunting in order to pay the bills. But I also recognize that if I’m no longer doing research full-time, that might enable to me to pursue teaching opportunities that could help me make the transition from research scientist to teaching scientist. I’ll be trying to make that transition at some point in the future; I just don’t know when.
Finally, and this is perhaps the quietest reason, I want to start working on a new project. Actually, I’m already working on it, and I’ll say more about it soon, but suffice to say that my plate is full this year—full of projects, optimism, and faith that things will work out. I am making a bold move and pursuing the things that I want to do, intellectually, athletically, spiritually. I need a home base for all my adventures, and my little apartment has definitely become home in the 3+ years since I moved into this space.
I suppose my bold move is more of a non-move, but it feels very empowering to say, “This is where I am staying.” Plus I can start working on my patio garden soon because I know I’ll be here for the summer!
Finally, on a completely unrelated note, I picked up a bottle of this lovely stuff and can’t wait to fill my kitchen with a chocolate-and-mint-scented fog.