Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What am I doing here?

Or, more precisely, what is the purpose of this blog.

I woke up in a start last night, from a nightmare. Everything was going fine. I had applied to all of these great jobs and went on the interviews. I thought things were going well... and then all the Universities rejected me because they'd gone to my blog and decided they didn't want someone who was so open about their thoughts/personal life.

Then I was wondering: Is it really smart to have a non-anonymous blog? Am I sharing too much? Does anyone really care about the mundane family/food/life stuff I post about? Would you all rather see just Science-posts? What if some psychopath starts stalking me because of the blog? Am I opening my daughter up to child predators? Is it really going to harm my academic career to post openly about my life? What about all the times I change my mind on topics - will I be called a hypocrite because my past blog posts forever (hypothetically) retain my past thoughts? Should I poll people to see what they think about the blog content? Am I worrying needlessly?

Okay, hold on. Maybe I'm channeling some of the Science Friday podcast I listened to yesterday about Anxiety (a book club discussion about Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxietyby Daniel Smith).

After a couple more hours of sleep, I woke up with clearer thoughts.

1. I like not being anonymous. I'm a real person. I'm happy to discuss more about anything I write. I don't claim to be an expert in life, I'm just sharing my experience of it.

2. I like sharing (some) about my personal life. In my career as a scientist, I don't want to be defined by my personal life, or my family. They don't determine whether the research I'm doing is good or valid. However, I think it is useful for everyone to see scientists as people. We have lives, and interests, and hobbies, and opinions. We struggle with decisions and work to find a balance between what satisfies us intellectually and what satisfies us emotionally (and sometimes they are the same thing!).

3. I like writing about science. I love it, in fact. Someday I may write for a science-specific arena, but this isn't it.  I will write about science, experiences as a scientist, and science outreach, but these things are only a component of who I am, and so they will only be a component of this blog.

4. I will change my mind - it's what people do.

5. The likelihood of many of my fears becoming a reality are quite small, and likely not going to result from sharing information on my blog. Probably. Right?

6. Will potential employers reject me because of the blog? Maybe. I may never know if this, right here, will be why I don't get a job. But, I think #1 and #2 are important enough that an institution who values their employees as a whole individual will appreciate the value in sharing the human side of scientists. Am I giving them too much credit?

And... cue my panic and retraction next Fall when I fail to get a single interview.

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