The Sassy Scientist – Trumping Regrets

The Sassy Scientist – Trumping Regrets

To leave or not to leave (academia)? If I had a penny for every time I heard the various declinations of this question…I would have left academia. Gisele has thoughts about a specific aspect of this topic and joins the choir:

How do you leave academia without feeling like a failure?

Dear Gisele,

You cannot. But then again, it’s better to feel like a failure and cry about it in a Lamborghini than to stay in academia and cry on a bike.

Seriously though: most likely you have met people that left academia to join the masses and find one of those much-talked-about `normal jobs’. I bet not many of them give you the impression of regretting it. I know a few myself and if they do feel like they failed at something, they are not admitting it.

Maybe they do regret leaving academia, but I bet it’s hard to overthink about the past with all the oh-so-nice free time that a 9-to-5 job gives you. Perhaps they really, truly regret leaving academia, and the bitterness has led them to take one of those jobs with the sole purpose of destroying the life of academics. You know, one of those jobs where you get to go in a meeting and say things like “mh, let’s see, how do we really ruin some researcher’s life today? I know! We could tell them that from now on the cost of new laptops is not covered by grant money anymore. Wouldn’t that be nice?”. Between the great satisfaction such jobs must give them and the nice pay checks at the end of the month, I bet they feel pretty ok about leaving academia.

Consider this: people that leave academia can have things like, weekends (gosh!) and job stability (golly!!) and decent salaries (well I’ll be damned, seriously???). I am pretty sure all of that trumps some regrets they might have had the first couple of months.

So if you really thought about it, still want to leave and you are sure you are doing it for the right reasons, you know where the door is. Just remember to close it when you leave. It’s getting drafty in here.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: Remember that outside academia people don’t normally have to debug the same line of code for a whole year, or re-derive the same set of equations every day for a whole PhD or re-submit the same proposal for the fifth time in hopes to, this time, get some funding.

PS2: Please give me some funding…

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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