The one thing that would make my PhD bearable…
is if my supervisor would actually give a shit.
I spent three months, THREE, trying to get a piece of cloning to work. Twice before I’d thought I’d succeeded at the intermediate steps only to find at the final sequencing step that it hadn’t worked. However, third time lucky! (DMSO is an amazing thing for PCRs that refuse to work, by the way.) I amplified the thing I was trying to clone and sent it for sequencing, and it actually bloody worked. You have no idea how happy this made me. I was jumping for joy, and so relieved, especially since I’d spent the morning deliberately NOT looking at the sequencing result in case it hadn’t worked. Nothing like avoidance of possible failure for getting stuff done, yes?
Obviously, I went in to my supervisor’s office to share the great news as soon as I was sure.
And what did I get? A distracted, ‘huh’. Followed by “but I’m worried about XYZ with this aspect of the project.” Way to go, supervisor mine, crushing my excitement and joy with a well-placed, unrelated criticism. Don’t bother to share in my relief that I can finally move on to the next stage of this part of the work, or to congratulate me on a problem well fixed. *headdesk*
Intellectually, I know that I have to keep on pumping out results that fit the story he wants to believe is true in order to keep him interested. I know he has an ‘oscillator’* of whose work he’s interested in and that you can only be on the up for so long before you drop off his radar. I know I shouldn’t be so emotionally invested in his opinions of my work but I am and I don’t know how to change it. Being driven by a desire to please your superiors works great in secondary school but not so well in real life, alas. Any suggestions on how to wean myself off approval seeking would be much appreciated.
*the lab’s little in-joke. We mainly work on a signalling pathway called NF-κB which encodes information through an oscillating pattern of nuclear occupancy, and W’s interest in our work goes up and down in wave form like p65’s occupancy of the nucleus does. The heartbreaking irony.