canidothis Posted July 9, 2015 Share Posted July 9, 2015 This may not be the best place to post, as most of you are probably still in grad school, but I know you can get very good advice here so I am hoping that some will come my way. Apologies in advance for the rather long post from an anonymous handle. I am going to tell my story and try not to embellish or interpret anything. I am a postdoc in the Social Sciences. I graduated from a top school in my field last year and won a nice fellowship that is affiliated with a top program with good funding and minimal teaching. When I graduated, and I think now too, I was considered to be a rising star. I have more publications than some people I know who recently got tenured at good schools. Everything seemed great. But this last year has been a continuous disaster. On paper, my new school is a great match. Everyone keeps saying how great it is that I got to come here. In reality, I don't like it here. There is something not right about this place. People only care about themselves, and the faculty are openly dismissive of students who they deem "not worthy." One, in particular, acts like I am not worth their time, though thankfully they have no real influence on my life and once I realized they were making me feel like shit I stopped trying to work with them (on paper, we should be collaborating on multiple topics). It took me a whole semester to figure out that this person was making me doubt myself in fundamental ways, because I know others really value this person's opinion. I haven't gotten any new publications, and a key paper has been rejected, after a difficult interaction with a reviewer. The job market ate up all of my time and probably not an insignificant amount of my soul. My relationship ended; she cheated. I kept up with my teaching and got good evaluations, but nothing else was functioning. Overall I actually did well on the job market and had a TT job offer from a good school that made me happy and hopeful again. I started planning how I would rebuild my life in a new job in a new city. But something happened. Those who would have been my future colleagues say in confidence that it is "unheard of, unethical, perhaps illegal." I will not go into details, but next year I will be a postdoc again and go on the job market again. I've been trying to put the pieces of my life back together. I moved to a new part of town, I am spending my summer writing up multiple papers, I started a new collaboration, I got into a few good conferences. And then: I was hoping to apply to a fellowship that would require a sponsor at my new school, but just today I heard back that no one at my school wants to sponsor me. I asked four people. This includes my current sponsor, the faculty member who makes me feel like shit but who shares a lot of interests with me and has a track record of getting these fellowships, and someone I have been talking to about a potential collaboration for months, but we've both been too busy to meet on a regular basis. The email was nice, but said it was last minute and it would be hard without an already ongoing project. They said it would be too much work. I get it, it's true that I don't have an existing project with any of those people. But still I feel so offended, they don't even think it's worth their time to put together an application and try. I have a good track record of winning fellowships, and I know others who have applied and won this fellowship without having had an ongoing project with their sponsor prior to their application. Ever since the job fiasco happened, over two months now, I've been occasionally having mini panic attacks, as diagnosed by mental health services here. I've never before been depressed or needed a therapist, but I feel completely broken. I was doing better, but this email today unleashed a new panic attack. Occasionally I have the following series of thoughts: I want to quit. But if I quit, what will I do? I will have to leave here, because I am on a work visa. I don't want to go back home. There is nothing for me there. I do think I have skills that are transferrable, although I don't have a specific alternative career in mind, but worse, I don't think I could get a job because I have the wrong citizenship. I don't want to go back home. So I have to stay in this field to get to have a life where I want to live. I am trapped. On better days, I know that's all bullshit. I enjoy all parts of the job. I enjoy the research. I enjoy writing. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy collaborating, mentoring, meeting with students. I think I am respected by colleagues. I even enjoy service-type work. I hate the politics, but I accept that they exist in every job. I know I can make it, I can do more than that -- I would kick ass, but I feel like I can't catch a break. And yes, I know it's only been one year, but feelings and facts don't always go together. Ever since I started thinking about where I want to live and how that could be possible, and realizing that at least right now it means I have to stay in academia, it's messing with me and making it hard to tell myself I enjoy my field independently of all that other stuff. I am damned if I do and damned if I don't. Thus far goes the story. It doesn't have a point. I don't even know if I have a question, it's just that I have no one to tell this to. My PhD mentors are amazing and supportive and have dropped everything for months to see me through the ordeal with the job. I don't feel like I can call them and tell them over the phone that I feel like I have nothing to live for now, I want to quit it all. It wouldn't be fair because they couldn't do anything from afar. I also fear that if I do it, I'll lose their respect. I have no one to talk to here. My sponsor and other relevant faculty just told me they don't think I'm all that. I know some other people here but I've lived here for less than a year and none are close enough friends to tell this to. So here I am. Maybe someone will have some perspective or can offer advice. Or, as a start, maybe you can tell me if I am making any sense. Or, if nothing else, maybe you can suggest good music to listen to when I'm feeling down to help me snap out of it. If you've read this far, thank you. 1FJG 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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