Well, here we are again, almost a year after last post. It’s about time we talk about perspective again.
At this point, it’s almost a personal tradition to occasionally abandon this blog and come back after a long time, with a post that usually begins with me complaining about how I spent way too long without posting anything, then arguing that this time it’s going to be differente, and promising to post interesting stuff regularly and so on. Usually something happens along the way and everything goes down the drain, and that perspective changes again. And, in the time since the last post, a lot of those things came to pass.
The story, without too much detail
As I have mentioned here a few times, I don’t like to offer too much detail in posts I make here, because certain things simply do no belong in the Internet, and I don’t like to expose certain things about my personal life (and no, the irony of having a blog is not lost on me).
That being said, lets start at the beginning: I came back from Germany without much perspective about what to do with myself. My stay there did not generate the results I hoped for (mostly because I didn’t meet adequate conditions to work on what I should have worked on). Broken down equipment (who would have known!) didn’t get fixed because the company responsible kept postponing their technical visit (8 months in total), failures in communication of expectancies and other problems that I’m not even going to try to ennumerate. The perspectives I thought I’d have had did not get committed. Basically, living in Germany was an amazing personal learning experience, but burned me out professionally, in a way that I lost the taste for research. My ideas were never welcomed, and I felt coerced into functioning in a very different way, without having time to adjust. Anyway, I’m going out on a tangent here.
When I got back to Brazil the best perspective I had was driving Uber. It was 2018’s second semester and everyone knows how that year ended. But, hey, “at least we removed the Worker’s Party” (the joke makes more sense in portuguese).
To be clear, I did NOT vote for the fascist asshat that currently occupies the “big chair” in Brasília.
Two mutually exclusive perspectives
Anyway, as I tried to make ends meet while driving Uber, two opportunities kind of fell into my lap. They did not come out of nowhere, though: one of them was an old promise that actually came true (thanks to funding that finally came). The other one came through a friend’s recommendation, and I was at the right place at the right time.
One of them involved some connection to my area of expertise, but at the same time it offered less money and constant travelling, and an uncertain renewal/extension perspectove. The other one meant a significant change of direction, but had better perspectives in the medium to long term, and better pay. It was a really tough choice, but in the end I chose the second one. A lot of things were part of that decision, but in the end I thought it would be healthy to change focus. Work would involve a lot of things related to IT, programming and data management, stuff that I enjoy.
On the side, I knew that it would also involve more practical day-to-day stuff in the lab, and I didn’t mind it. After all I’m perfectly aware that being part of a research group means you have to do what needs to be done, especially in my University’s current condition of a severe shortage of capable hands.
Make your choices, and live with them
In the end, though, no matter how hard I tried, expectations were not reasonable, not compared to what I expected, nor to what was asked of me. Thinking retroactively, I know that it didn’t matter how much I got done, it would never have been enough.
When you write a report, and the guy comes and says “you can’t say all that, it’s not part of your project”, then a month later the same guy says “looking at your report, it’s clear you didn’t do anything”, you can’t help but feel like you missed something.
Anyway, enough complainining. Whoever knows how to put 2 and 2 together will figure out that I’ve said more than I usually do, and maybe that’s too much. Suffice it to say, though, that phase is done. There is some red tape to be taken care of, but that’s just some detail and I’m not worried. At this point, the expression that comes to mind is actually another.
Problems are opportunities in disguise
According to Ocean’s 12‘s Ruben, John Adams said that “every problem is an opportunity in disguise”. I kind of agree with that, although I don’t think it is universal. Anyway, it’s an interesting perspective.
At any rate, the point is that thanks to that work I focused on learning stuff that otherwise I would not have had the time or dedication for. I learned Python (and a lot of things related to that), data management, reviews my knowledge of databases, API construction… besides finally learning R, something I wanted to do ever since I began my masters.
But I think the main point was that, to make sure I was well instructed, I endeavoured to start a second major. Not only was it related to the work, it also meant a way of dealing with my “kinda-close-to-midlife-crisis”. One of those points is no longer valid, and I dropped this semester so the whole thing got delayed, but I think it’s still worth it. I’m not sure if I’m going to stay on the same major, though. Now that I no longer have a restriction of “needing to be work-related”, I can maybe go into another area, maybe something that might propitiate a career change.
Perspectives moving forward
Truth is, the future is open-ended. Fortunately, conditions at home are enough for me to take some time to figure out what to do as I move forward. Which is very good, I might add. I dreamt of being a Physicist for so long that I never really considered being anything else. And to be honest, if I ever get the chance, I still might choose that. I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m not a visionary. I never had much of a calling for that, and didn’t get trained for that, either. There is a famous Feynman story from when he visited Brazil that illustrates that very well.
So, this is it. My path right now remains undefined, and I need to decide where I want to go. Sadly this is a bad time for that, because I had the back luck of being born in the wrong country (as any other half-decent brazilian who lives here currently).
But that, too, shall pass. Until then, we follow Dory’s advice and keep swimming.