Tag Archives: scientific journalism

Not Great Expectations

‘I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.’ ~ Fritz Perls.

Panicked. Anxious. Questioning what I should doing and where I am now. There was I hoping my twenties would be a carefree existence with the distinct joy of finding myself and my place in the world. The moment the pressure lifts from academics, then the job search/be successful pressure hits full throttle. I feel guilty not knowing what I should do with my life with absolute 100% certainty, I’m chasing ideas and running with them (stong pull:fertility lab). But if something isn’t happening, when do I decide to give up and try another avenue.

The Daily Mail released an article today. It’s crazy how many of us fledgling adults are slumping into a ‘quarter-life crisis’, and sad that the pressure of life are getting to us at a time in our lives when we should be enjoying our newly found freedom and be full of hope for our futures. Instead many of us are directionless and uncertain. I remember a few months after I graduated feeling this way, I read the quarter-life crisis section of the Prospects.ac.uk forum and was shocked at how low some people felt. I remember one girl who had graduated in 2007, had been working temp jobs and just felt like a robot, sick of living with her parents still and wondered how long it would be til something came her way that was even loosely related to her degree. One guy shockingly felt so down that he had contemplated jumping in front of the train as his life felt so static, lacked meaning and had spent so much time unemployed and feeling useless that he thought he would never get employed. My heart broke for these people, would I feel the same if nothing had worked out for me years in the future? A shade of failure and inadequacy.

As the article suggested – take a break from the rat race and do something meaningful to lift your spirits. Which is precisely why I’m in Canada – avoiding stewing in my anxiousness and an unstable economy (plus the small matter of love). I have dipped my toe into the volunteer realm, the thoughts of making a difference at the dog shelter and getting started in a new project freed my mind from the worries of what I should be doing, but happy to do something I wanted to do. If it takes me longer to find my calling (scientific journalism? creative writing?) or be given a chance in the working world (Health Service hire me!) then so be it. It’s hard to say that and I do worry, especially when I see the busy streets and roads at 7am of people making their way to work and thinking ‘Shouldn’t this be me?’. What if my untapped potential fades away? What if no opportunity presents itself even though I keep my ears a-prick? What if I’m out of employment too long, does that make me a loser? Should I go to graduate school?

Something that always hurts when reading these articles is the insensitivity of some of the comments. Claiming Gen Y are a bunch of whiners and feel we are ‘entitled’. I certainly worked hard to get my degree but I never feel like I was owed anything. I think if it was known how many resumes some graduates have sent out to secure a single interview, the number of young people working for free just to get experience for the hope of an entry-level job in the future, the competition, the moments of feeling worthless. The vicious cycle of ‘needing experience, but needing some experience to compete for the experience opportunity’ plus the curse of student loans, maybe they could understand the upset.

The authors touch on pressures from the celebrity lifestyle. This certainly isn’t me, I love a new pair of shoes and something sparkly to add to my accessories carousel  as much as the next girl but if need be I can live minimally and on a budget. I think we’re bombarded with images of what ‘success’ is and by some mystical osmosis we start to absorb these projections. Which is the source of unhappiness. Success is purely subjective, it’s where you want to be. Expecting something unrealistic is only going to lead to heartbreak and stress. I’m still trying to figure out my definition of success (with happiness leading the list) but it certainly won’t be shaped by anything other than my wants and desires.

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Filed under Building my CV, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development

Product of Silence

If I’m trying to sleep, the ideas won’t stop.  If I’m trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness. ~Carrie Latet

February. It really felt like the short month it is. Feeling like I couldn’t contain the hours, savor any moments or halt the passage of time. Would this year just slow down please. Looking at my calendar March looks like a never-ending month in comparison, but once the days pass and time gains momentum it will be the end of another part of 2010. Despite my blog silence I have actually been working on an article for the New Scientist. I would always joke in college that I would sell my soul for a job working for National Geographic, maybe I was just swayed by the breathtaking photography which would leave me awestruck and longing to see the wonders of the world and experience nature in all its finery. New Scientist has a similar effect on me, reminding me that we are discovering things out about our world at an alarming rate. It makes me feel genuinely ‘wowed’ by science.

Rewind back a few weeks from today, I got an email in my inbox which made me very excited – ‘do you have a burning desire to write for the New Scientist?’ I had always packaged ‘scientific journalism’ in my mind and pushed it to one side as potential career path. So given my love for science and tippy-tappying on my keyboard or conjuring up torrents of words in a journal you can imagine my delight in finding this email. They are offering a 6 month paid internship in their London office. Despite the painful long experience of waiting for my Canadian work visa (and being stuck in rural nothingness) I knew if I was to get accepted I would be stupid not to take it as it would be such a brilliant experience. Like a stepping stone and a shove in the right direction.

Luckily soul selling was not involved. All they wanted was for me to have a science degree and craft a 400 word article on a scientific advancement. I picked my favorite topic – ‘reproduction’ – and went about putting together an article on a recent discovery of channels in the sperm membrane which have been found to be linked with their swimming capabilities. You can imagine all the intrigue this has caused in the science community and the implications of this for contraception and conversely tweaking sperm to make them vigorous swimmers. So, to me it seemed like something ‘fun’ to write about. Now 400 words seems such a minuscule amount, especially when you’ve churned out thousands upon thousands for a dissertation, but 400 words is so hard to write when you have much to say. Painstaking research went into it beyond just reading the one research paper – watching their lab videos, contacting the main researcher for photos, reading the rest of the science communities reactions. I was mostly terrified of getting the facts wrong and science is all about integrity and not taking shortcuts (rules to live by in life too). Cue me checking every detail, oh dear the perfectionist in me!

Now in all honesty I went to all this effort because it would be silly of me to let an opportunity slip through my fingers like that. I’m sure there will be people applying with a string of published articles or who have religiously written for their college newspapers. For that reason alone I’m not pinning any high hopes on this. But I need to start taking chances, living a little, you never know what might happen when you do.

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Filed under Career, Life, Science