posted on 2011-11-29 23:28:27The last few months have gone by with a speed and obliviousness I couldn't have imagined, and don't miss in the least. Moving in was a blur, and things still haven't come together quite yet in terms of decoration, but this apartment, like many before it, is starting to feel like home.
One of the tough things I dealt with recently was quitting my job. I was working as a researcher at Columbia, which really is the best job I could have hoped for out of school. Unfortunately, they could only offer me the pay of a graduate student, although I wouldn't get (and didn't want) housing or classes through Columbia. Also, the professor really didn't know what I was working on in a way that made life very stressful for me. It gave me a glimpse of grad school and what it could be, and I hope I keep this in mind when I finally go for my own grad experience. What I found was multi-faceted, and I hope many of them were Columbia, because they really made the experience unpleasant.
First, the professor had no idea what I was doing. He was an expert in quantum optical nanodevices, which apparently doesn't really overlap with experimental quantum optics for quantum computing very much at all. The experiment I was trying to pull together on my own was nothing new, and in fact would have just replicated results over ten years old for no reason I could make out. I felt stuck on that project and didn't think it was nearly so important that I should be putting the time, effort, and emotion into it.
Second, there was almost no lab community. The few people who were kind enough to talk to me didn't lead to much conversation at all. The people seemed to barely talk to each other, and many of my lab mates were difficult to speak with at all, because their english was sometimes lacking.
The list goes on as I process it all. One of the most difficult parts, though, was the reaction of my family. While I was working at this job, I was stressed, worried, and extremely unhappy. The constant presence of deadlines, the contradictory instructions of my professor, and the ontinuing lack of results made my days full of dreading being at work and not being able to do anything all over again. Despite my misery, all my family could manage was to tell me to suck it up and stick to it.
I am all for sticking to hard situations. I often insert myself willingly into strange or difficult situations because I know I'll learn from them. In this case, though, I was genuinely unhappy, and not learning anything and I was stuck between the rock and hard place of a job I hated and a family that thought being in work was more important than my happiness.
Now I'm unemployed, and while not knowing when I'll be making money again is hard, I know I'm far happier than I was at that job. Pos