Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Blues

Ever since it started getting cold and snowy I've been feeling really down. I haven't been able to motivate myself to do much of anything. Work, exercise, socializing, chores, even reading all take a lot of effort - that is, assuming I actually get around to doing it.

I'm fully convinced that it has to do with winter arriving. It's dark early and gets cold at night, so the last thing I want to do after eating dinner is to go back outside to do anything. The problem is the less I do, the more down I feel, then I want to do even less. It's just a big cycle.

I know the obvious fix is to force myself to do something - but why should I do something that I don't want too? Hmmm...I wonder what my therapist would have to say about all this?

And since I have no energy, I can't think of anything else to write...except "come on SPRING!"

PS: we made the decision to go back west for Christmas.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Conundrum

It's getting to the end of November and we still haven't decided whether we should go "home" for Christmas. I put "home" in quotes because it's not really our home anymore, but you know what I mean.

We've been flip flopping on whether we should go visit our families or stay here and have our first married Christmas together. The problem is there are so many pros and cons for both sides that we're just stuck and I honestly don't know how we're going to decide!

Pros of going "home"
- we get to see our families, which we will be doing less of in the years to come
- getting out of our city/apartment
- not having to cook dinner for a week! LOL

Cons of going "home":
- it's SO expensive, especially for only a week
- going to both our hometowns is stressful - we have to do a LOT of traveling and visiting in a short period of time and we'll feel like we need another vacation once we get back
- not being just us; having to be "on" all the time
- being away from the cats
- not starting our own traditions

We threw around the idea of just visiting one family this year, then doing the other next year, but neither of us really like that option and we'd have no idea how to choose.

We also thought about taking a vacation somewhere tropical instead and saying "screw it!" to the whole thing! Then we realized that we'd probably get bored, and that money is better spent elsewhere.

DH is giving us until Wednesday to decide - any suggestions?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Career Paths

During my first few therapy sessions we discussed my career, why I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, and what I might want to do down the road. In order to get a better idea of what I’m “suited” for, my therapist got me to do a few different tests.

Test #1: Self-Directed Search (SDS)

The SDS was created by John Holland, PhD, and is supposed to help to explore possible career paths based on likes and dislikes in the categories of activities, competencies, and occupations. There are 6 career types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. Here are my scores:

R = 15
I = 40
A = 15
S = 35
E = 31
C = 39

You’re supposed to take the three with the highest numbers that will be your summary code. Mine is ICS. Then, you can look up jobs by the summary code to see what might be good choices.

There are no jobs for ICS listed. None. Nada. Zilch.

Then, you’re supposed to look for jobs that have summary codes of the same letters but different orders (ISC, CSI, CIS, SIC, SCI). Two whole jobs came up: Research Assistant at a university and Accountant.

Test #2: Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (JVIS)

This test takes your areas of interest and compares them with those people in different occupations that share the same interests. It clearly states that interests are very different from abilities.

The results of this test are much more detailed than the SDS. The first part gives a score on each of the 34 basic areas of interest, and your dominant areas are those with a score of 80 or above. The second part gives a rating in 10 general occupational themes.

It then compares your interests to over 10,000 university students. The results rank the similarity between your interests to each of the 17 student clusters (i.e. major fields). My top 3 are Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.

They then do the same matching technique, but with job groups. My top 3 are: Accounting, Banking & Finance, Machining/Mechanical, and Engineering.

Test #3: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

This is more of a personality test, rather than on career/interests. There are 8 personality types, put into 4 groups: Extroverted/Introverted, Sensing/Intuitive, Thinking/Feeling and Judging/Perceiving. In general, people are primarily one or the other, and your personality type is given to you as four letters based on your scores. My scores were:

E/I = 0/100
S/N = 53/47
T/F = 55/45
J/P = 59/41

So, my personality type is ISTJ: the duty fulfiller. Reading the personality summary, I have to say that it agrees pretty well with what I am like. It suggests careers: Business executive/administrator/manager, accountant, police/detective, judges, lawyers, medical doctor/dentist, computer programmers, military leaders.

Now, as interesting as these tests are, the more interesting thing is the results I personally get out of them. In all three tests, the results are ambiguous. In the SDS, you could see I could have easily had an “E” in there instead of the “C” or S”. In the second, the top three job matches were only “neutral” matches. In order for it to be meaningful, the matches should be “moderately high” or “high”. In the Myers-Briggs test, you can see that the S/N, T/F and even the J/P ratios aren’t very far apart, and I could have easily gone the other way.

So, what does this mean? Well, according to my therapist this is a good thing because it shows I have a wide range of interests AND abilities – that I can go into many different careers and be successful.

To me though, it just makes things even more confusing! Should I stay in astronomy, or go into something related like geology or engineering? Or should I do something completely different like sociology, interior design, accounting or teaching?

There's an even a bigger problem…I’m interested in doing ALL of these!! I feel like I'm starting a square one and have no idea what direction to go. HELP!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

If I knew then...

...what I know now, I probably would have left my PhD a year ago.

Okay, okay. Let me back up a bit.

About a year ago I was having a really difficult time with my PhD. I absolutely hated it. I couldn't concentrate on anything, I couldn't stand going to the observatory to get more data that I didn't want to deal with in the first place, and I didn't see my project working out at all. I was so depressed about it that I was seriously considering dropping out. I took a week off to think about things and spent that time in the career center at the university and scouring the internet for something...ANYTHING...that I could do with the education I had at the time.

I talked to DH, other students and my supervisor. The reoccurring themes were "everyone hates their PhD" and "you'll regret it if you don't finish it." I believed them. Plus, DH had signed up for a post-doc position so that he could stay here while I finished. He did not want to stay here, but did because of me. How could I not finish with that hanging over my head? So, I forged ahead.

Now, a year later, I'm looking back on that decision and realize it was probably the wrong one. Yes, I'm sure everyone hates their PhD, and yes, I'm sure I'd look back and wonder what would have happened if I had finished - but I have been unhappy in my job for the last year. I'm sure I'll continue to be unhappy for the next year too.

What really hits home is what our life would be like if I left a year ago. DH could have declined the post-doc and found a job in industry (which he really wants) in a city other than here (which we both really want). I could have found another career path (a whole other post - stay tuned!) and we could have a family by now.

But, here I am, in my last year of my PhD. I actually don't mind the work now, mostly because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm working on my first paper and will hopefully get another one done in the next couple of months. In spite of this, I feel that I have no motivation other than the fact that I just want to finish.

My mind constantly drifts off to things I'd rather be doing, like writing, teaching, doing outreach, or raising a family, and trying to figure out how and when I can do those things.

Less than a year...less than a year...