I was looking in bewilderment at some friends who are absolute workaholics and it made me think of my own commitment to research: is it an addiction that needs curing/an obsession that needs controlling/love that needs careful nurturing/a calling and vocation to be grateful for?
If you have the patience to go through my muddled thoughts, then tell me if your own experiences are similar.
When people ask if I enjoy my work I am usually at a loss. How to explain the conundrum that I find scientific research to be?
So the good days are when you have a brilliant idea and are able to translate it into a design/experiment, something tangible that works. The joy of getting results that make sense and answering the question you posed: “what if we….” or “can it…”. On such days the only place I want to be is my lab. Nothing else matters. Really! I don’t want to go out, shop, watch films, meet friends. I just want to be able to keep playing with that lovely joyous problem. The high it gives me is beyond anything (yes not even chocolate, or the backhand of Justine Henin!) I think about the problem all the time, I see it everywhere, in my dreams and when I am awake. I am consumed by it. So I don’t know if this is just obsessive behaviour, or behaviour typical of an addict or in a more positive way, love for something.
The bad days are when the ideas dry up, when the solutions aren’t forthcoming and every attempt ends in failure. It is torture then to go to lab and I have to drag myself from the pits of frustration by sheer will.
All in all I find research is probably 65 days of pure high and 300 days of varying degrees of frustration. What does it say about me that the 65 days keeps me hooked?
What is your experience of your work?