Thursday, 2 May 2013

The highs and lows of academia (and my other potential career)

When I was in the 6th form, 3 of my A-levels were a fairly normal mix - Biology, Chemistry and Maths.  Loads of people do that.  What they don't normally do is include Theatre Studies.

I loved acting, really loved it, and by all accounts I was quite good at it. I thought about doing it professionally.  The thing that stopped me, and has in fact stopped me continuing in an amateur way as well, is the constant fear of rejection and the highs and lows that go with performing and ending a run.  I was never very good at handling it, I'd take the rejection too personally and when I was in a show, it was all that mattered and once it was over I had a massive emotional crash.

So I decided not to pursue acting and went into science instead.  Only no-one told me that it's exactly the same!

The application for grants,short term jobs and the submitting of papers are all very similar to the casting process.  You're putting your work out there, you're saying look at me, like me, like what I do.  And the chance of rejection is pretty damn high.  Even once you do get a paper accepted (or get a role), if it's important enough to get noticed you get some people who love it, but equally you'll get some people who really hate it.  And they'll be happy to tell you so.

There are also massive highs and lows.  I just had a paper accepted for publication by PeerJ, an open source publication with an ethos that I believe very strongly in.  This gave me a massive high, a 'you know what, I'm actually good at this' feeling.  It was great.  But very soon afterwards I remembered that in 3 months time I won't have a job any more and I crashed back down to Earth.

I seem to have ended up in a career with lots of the problems that I rejected another one for, and I really didn't see it coming.

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