Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Do what you love

A little over 10 years ago, I was a process engineer at a large company. I really liked my company, but really hated my job. I think the thing I hated most was that I didn't feel challenged. I often felt like college was a complete waste, and that I could have done my job out of high school. I think I also didn't like the fact that the amount of work performed seemed irrelevant. So a coworker who spent pretty much eight hours a day talking about football and one hour working comes off about the same as me who spends eight hours working. Why couldn't I just do the one hour and go home? Anyway, this whole debacle (among other things) led me to a period of sadness in my life.

It was my husband who saved me. He asked me to evaluate all the things I had ever done in my life in school or as a hobby. Rather quickly, I told him that my favorite thing was research and that I thought I wanted to teach. It's kind of difficult to go back to school after being out for two years (and making $$$), but it was really what I wanted. I think graduate school was a little easier for me because I was "doing what I loved." I was willing to quit and try something different if it ever got to crazy, and so I never worked the 80 hour weeks, because that wasn't what I "loved." Yet, I still graduated, still got a faculty position, and here I am now doing ~ 45 hr weeks and I think I am doing just fine.

Now, my husband faces the same question. He just finished his MBA and tried to go back to his pre-MBA field in -ology. Turns out that he hates -ology. Now, he is trying to start a company. This is a little risky because we don't expect a revenue stream (i.e., salary) for some time, but it doesn't really matter because I am working. He is "doing what he loves" and he couldn't be happier. It can be scary to take a risk like quitting a job to go back to school or to start a company, but it is always worth it to "do what you love."


At 11:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post - thank you!

At 3:11 PM , Blogger JaneB said...

Great post! Now, if only I could figure out what 'doing what I love' would look like...

At 12:12 PM , Blogger Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

What an excellent post! Thanks! Your post helped put my work habits in perspective. I only love doing this so much and exceeding that on a regular basis diminishes that.

At 12:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a find! I did a google search "can moms get a phd" since I have an 8 mo. old daughter and would LOVE to go back to school... this is very inspirational. I'm basically in this exact same boat with my career.

At 2:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Dr. Mom! At age 61, with two master degrees, I've followed Joseph Campbell's mantra "Follow your bliss." I've been happy doing so, even while I mothered young children, worked, and studied. Of course I had my husband's support and he mine, even when we faced out-of-state relos for his job. And, I couldn't have stayed on my trail toward bliss w/o friends: We swapped childcare, dark moments of will, and kicks in the butt, ie. love.


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