Lily took a nice break during the Christmas season, but quickly restressed, and asked:
Everytime I take some time off work, I feel guilty I did afterwards. Should l simply keep working continuously?
I would keep working continuously if I were you. I mean, how else are you going to finish your research, write those papers, complete that funding request, prepare a new undergrad course, send in that job application, fill in the department review paperwork, check last week’s exams, finalise that invited talk for next week, endure the invigorating group meeting, stay up-to-date with all your favourite journals, fix your broken lab equipment, submit that conference abstract, read through the 15th version of some graduate thesis that never seems to reach an acceptable version, defend your plagiarism judgement in front of a crying student, deal with that co-author who has gone AWOL, Skype™ with that student who decided that a project at the other side of the world is a brilliant idea, make arrangements for your upcoming fieldwork, ánd get some groceries for dinner. And that’s just last month. There’s no other choice if you want to stay in science. Forfeiting this never-ending rat race is not an option.
Guilt is an emotion unbecoming of a proper researcher. Guilt is for the lazy and the weary. Unless you’ve really been up to no good, of course. Don’t feel guilty in case you’ve managed to square up some days off work; leaving that relentless path to ascend the towering mountain of (expected) duties and results you’ve been stuck on may very well lead to the uncovering of a whole new trail. A trail of less resistance no less. Maybe there’s even an escalator up there. A fresh mind will render you a renewed perspective on the problems you’ve tried to resolve. Maybe your friends and family will even be happy to see your face once again. A rut busted is an attitude adjusted, I say. That’s some T-shirt worthy material right there.
The Sassy Scientist
PS: This post was written after an invigorating Christmas break. Let’s jump right back into that rut.