Sunday, October 12, 2014

Drifter mentality

So on my second last working day, I got a short term contract extension with another professor. For now I don't need to leave Sweden, which is good news. But at the same time, I do not know what is my next step. I applied for another job in Canada, and got positive initial response from the potential supervisor, but it's again a short term employment.

I hang out with the boy again on the weekend (I guess it's not considered as an ex-... more like a friend with benefits). It's always great fun hanging out with him, but at the end of every get together I feel a sense of profound sadness, because there is no future between us. He is sad I will leave, but has no intention of keeping me either. I actually made an attempt to see other people, but I have trouble getting excited about starting a new relationship with someone else.

The 2014 Nobel prizes were announced recently. I was very excited about the physiology and medicine prize going to neuroscience. I had the fortune to listen to Dr. Edvard Moser talk about his research last year... it was very computationally complex (him and his wife study grid cells -- cells in our brains that help us navigate around this world), to the point I had trouble understanding it. I think he is very deserving of his award, but I don't know how to get excited about my own work.

I spent an hour listening to Dr. Robert Sapolsky's Stanford lecture on depression on Youtube. It was very educational. I have no doubt I have the gene variant where repeated stressors in life increases my chances of developing depression by 30 fold. My life experience has also subjected me to "learned helpless" as mentioned in the lecture.

What can I do about my situation? I did not like not being left hanging, uncertain if I would have a job or not until the last minute, but I do like this new lab I'm in, at least for now. At the same time, if my contract does not get extended again, I feel like I want to go on a retreat or a volunteer mission rather than straight into the next job, where I have to over-stress myself learning 10 million new things again. The thing is, would a yoga retreat or volunteer trip help me? The last time I went on one I got even more depressed. It's hard to know if I should try more aggressively to control my life, or to go with the flow (my previous boss called me a "drifter"). The former approach is difficult, since I don't know exactly what I want right now. Well, I want a supportive social network (and a partner in life), but those things can't exactly be forced. I have an okay chance with finding myself a job with a longer contract, but I have not decided where I want to move to next.

Just gotta stay brave and keep trying new things I guess.

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