Repost: Spending your emotions wisely

Every now and then I lay awake at night wondering if I will be able to secure a grant or fellowship before my current post-doc position (that is just a year and 3 months 2,5 months) runs out. Or if I need to spend this time trying to find a job outside of academia. I worry about this. And then the other day someone tweeted a link to one of my blog posts that I almost forgot I wrote. So mostly for my own sake I will repost it here (there's some blabla about a meeting a went to, so you might as well skip to the sentence I highlighted below):

 

Recently, it seemed like every conversation I had was about how hard it is to get grants and how little money there is for science. At SfN this year it was all I talked about. But the awesome conference that I’m at now is completely shifting that. It is great to be here in so many ways:

First, I get to sleep and relax. Last night I decided not to go out and drink, but to go back to my hotel room at 11 and sleep. I slept in a whole stretch to the next morning. That hadn’t happened in 2 years and it was great. Also, there is some time to relax and I just spend an hour and a half at the pool reading a book. Anyone who has a kid realizes that that too is something that only happens every 2 years or less. 

Also scientifically this meeting is great. There are many good speakers and sessions, but what this conference also makes me realize is that I am someone who works in a certain field and knows things. For example, I know who the people in my field are and what they do. I realize what the questions are that the field has at the moment and I’m starting to think of ways to answer those. But also, other people are starting to know who I am. Yesterday, the most awesome science-thing ever happened, where I was talking to someone I hadn’t met before and at some point this person realized that ze was familiar with my graduate work. But not only that, my graduate work had “inspired the work that ze was doing now” (hir words). OMG this still makes me so excited and happy!

This meeting is also really interesting because there are so many senior scientists who show genuine interest and share advice. Not only did I get assigned two mentors because I won a travel award but I have also been talking to numerous other senior scientists. Talking to them does sometimes make me wonder if I’ll be able to pull it off to be a rock-star scientist when I grow up. The morning I left for this meeting I kind of broke down under the pressure of writing a paper and a grant in the same month, and worrying about funding situations and about Dr. BrownEyes’ paper and grant and on top of that trying to clean the house and do laundry in the 2 hours I had before leaving for this conference after a pretty crappy night of sleep. I cried and said I couldn’t take it anymore. And then I heard all these stories about women whose kids got sick or who went through the trouble of adopting a child from a far-away country. Would I be able to take anymore load on top of this? I don’t even dare to think about what would happen when BlueEyes would get sick in times like these when it is so busy. 

And that brings me to the title of this post. Because at the women’s lunch at this meeting the speaker was talking about how you can only use your emotional capacity once in a day. There is only so much energy you can spend on emotions, that you’d better spend it wisely, she said. So her advice was to use your analytical scientific brain to determine whether something is word worrying about, and if not, stop worrying about it immediately. 

So I am going to walk in the sun and spend my emotional capacity on being happy about all this exciting science, instead of on worrying about funding rates of such and such percentage!! And did I mention how glad I am again to spend time with people I met on twitter?!

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