April 9th, 2009

I expect you’re all tired of hearing this, but I’m not a great chemist. I think I’ve been researched-out, honestly. One can only take so many failed experiments before one’s morale drops to abysmal levels. I’m in that abyss, and I’ve been here for quite a while. I can’t actually remember the last time an experiment worked.

My thesis write-up so far is full of the phrase “mixture of products.” “Complex mixture.” I’m worried I haven’t done enough work for it, and so I don’t have very much to write about; what’s more, all the stuff I did try didn’t work. Do you have any idea how unsatisfying that is? “I tried” doesn’t really cut it for something like this; you need results.

A few weeks ago, I caught myself thinking: “Once I’m done this experiment I can go and do what I really like.” And then it hit me: chemistry has never really been “that thing I like.” My supervisor lives to work. I’d rather work to live. Don’t get me wrong; I like chemistry well enough, but I also want to be able to leave work at work and have a life outside of the lab. This is at the core of why I don’t want to go into academia. The pressure to publish and produce results is incredible (at least until you have tenure.)

People tell me that with my French, I can easily get a job in the federal government (let’s ignore for the moment that English is the lingua franca of the scientific world, and any scientific position I find will not require me to use French in Canada). I’ve worked for the government. Not a whole lot gets done. I’m not sure how happy I would be in a situation like that. I know one thing, though, that I haven’t been happy with my research for a long, long time. I think it’s time to move on.

I’m almost cracking now; thesis is due in a week and a half, and I have an exam next Tuesday. I’m not sure how I’m going to fit all of this in, and I’m driving myself mad.

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