Sunday, June 8, 2014

Recent ramblings about opportunities, uncertainties, and social media

I attended a career building workshop recently. I must say that I do not remember ever being in the same room among such vast majority of individuals with so much self-doubt, self-criticism, skepticism towards alternative ideas, and fear of making mistakes.

If you wonder who are these people: these are a group of PhD students. Sometimes I think the purpose of graduate school is to strip students free of all shreds of self-confidence, instill hyper-tunnel-vision into students, and make them forget they are actually highly intelligent individuals capable of doing so many things.

For me, it was very refreshing to hear so many alternative perspectives from people who are not in traditional careers (kudos to the organizers). A lot of the ideas that I took for granted from observing how yoga teachers make a living (using Twitter/Instagram/Facebook marketing to get clients and to sell merchandise) were unheard of for most people in the classroom, who likely had been following nothing but scientific literatures and news websites, and maybe their own personal interests that did not involve social media marketing. Many were highly against/scared of the idea of "branding" themselves on internet. I guess I already went through that mental struggle myself back when Kino first started posting daily selfies in short shorts and yoga instruction Youtube videos online. It's been a few years now and she's been hugely successful, in terms of increasing visibility among the public worldwide, promoting her reputation, as well as pushing her merchandises (books, clothing, jewelry, yoga mats, retreats, workshops). Without a doubt, social media marketing is ridiculously effective if used in the right way.

To be honest, what I took from the workshop for me wasn't to learn how to use Twitter, but how different I felt from everyone else in the room. I guess my own grad school experience, however negative it was, still gave me space to pull myself away from my project mentally and pay attention to what's out there, while many others have been so focused on getting their experiments to work without having any mental space left to ponder about alternatives. Ironically, I am the one who is currently more interested in continuing research while >50% of the room have had enough and are ready to quit academia.

Life is full of ironies. I've been thinking about ending it with my bf for quite some time now. However, because of my emotional detachment from him, he feels less pressure from me and seems happier about the current status of our relationship.  However he still plans his life separately from mine. I'm not entirely sure what to do. I guess I will have to plan my life independently of him too.

It's good to know I have a lot of opportunities but at the same time it is also quite unsettling that I have not established a good support network nor have I convinced someone to go through the journey of life together.

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