On those days when you manage to take a break from bench-work and call home, you will almost certainly get ‘The Question:’
“So, how is your research going?”
If you’re new to grad school, you might make the mistake of telling your parent or loved one exactly how your research is going.
“Well, I was up until 3 AM doing time points but then one of the buffers was contaminated so I had to throw out my last two weeks of work and start over.”
To which your parent will reply, “That sounds awful! You must be so upset. Are you sure a career in science will make you happy?”
And you’ll stop and ponder that last question. Will a career in science make you happy?
Will you prance from bench to bench giggling to yourself, high on the sheer exhilaration of learning?
Or is it much more likely that you’ll face roadblocks, confounding data, experiments that only sometimes work, and that every once in awhile, you’ll push the boundary of your knowledge into new territory. In those moments, you might feel proud or relieved or curious, but not exactly ‘happy.’
Does that mean you should leave science to find a career that can make you happier?
Or is Mom asking you the wrong question entirely?