I had meetings with two people over the last two days. Both were to discuss a similar topic, but boy, were these meetings like day and night!
During one meeting, I felt that my ideas were no good, not relevant, and that I could not come up with a project without help from someone more senior than me (even if I know more about the subject at hand). The most frustrating part was being told that my idea was "okay", but if I did what they wanted me to, it would be much better and more well-received. Plus, if I did the latter, I would have a better chance of getting funding* (because it would greatly benefit certain units at the university - not because it would be a "better" idea).
During the second meeting, I felt nothing but support, that I can be an independent researcher, and that my ideas are worthwhile. The most wonderful part was being told that it's far more important to do something I love and that I'm passionate about, than to do something someone (higher up) wants me too, and that my ideas are relevant to many other people.
After I finished my PhD, I told myself that now is the time to find what I really want to do with my life. What am I passionate about? What excites me? What would get me out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face? There are a few things (which I'll discuss in another post), and one of them is a new (non-astronomy research) project I've started to work on.
I finally started doing something I love, and I'm happier than I have been in months...maybe even years. I really don't think I'm going to let someone dissuade me from continuing forward with it because they have ulterior motives, even if it means I can't get funding from them!
Some big changes are coming, and hopefully soon. I'll be able to pursue my interests with no time constraints and, best of all, no guilt and no one telling me what I should be doing.
*I don't mean that I won't be able to get any funding if I work on the project that I want - just that it would be harder to get funding from a particular unit at the university.