Work, Optional?!

The Daily Prompt:

Work? Optional! If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

I find it amusing that this prompt pops up now. I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the past few days. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist on Monday. It wasn’t pretty. Tears streamed down my face during the whole appointment as I desperately tried not to sob. He recommended that I see a psychologist for regular therapy and take some time off work/school to figure out if doing a Ph.D. is the right thing for me. I haven’t told my supervisor yet, nor have I decided whether or not to take psych’s advice about taking time off….but this is what started my thought processes. Money is already not part of the equation. I finally got a fellowship this year, but it doesn’t pay much. I guess I’m hoping I’ll make money some day in the future. If I could spend my days doing anything without any consequences, would I still be doing this?

After much thought and more tears, I think the answer is yes. I would still like to be doing vision research…..but not like this. In an ideal world (aka, not this one), I’d have a flexible schedule and do research part time so I could focus on my doodles, blog and writing the rest of the time. I’d love to have time to learn to paint, develop my writing skills and maybe write a children’s book or something. That would be my answer to today’s prompt but, I’m only dreaming.

Back to reality. I want to continue in vision research because I enjoy learning about the topic and helping the older population I work with. The thing I like about research is the learning, the challenge and the information. I love collecting information, breaking it down into the basics in order to understand it and then building up the story from there. This makes me think doing a Ph.D. is the right thing for me. I want to be a student though and at the moment, I think I might be juggling more responsibility than a student is supposed to have. I’m not sure though, I may have a skewed perspective because I have nothing to compare to.

I run the lab. I organize the people and the paperwork and I mentor the students and volunteers. I am involved in everything from study planning and grant applications to recruitment, testing, data analysis and reporting results. Right now, we have 6 studies running. I have spent the last year trying to get them all through ethics and am now finally collecting data. This does not include my dissertation by the way, that makes 7 studies. There is also an ongoing research-clinician program that I had to take over and the results of an 8th study that have to be published. I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in such a variety of projects. It will only look good on me when the research starts moving and I get to populate my CV.

Is this the way it usually goes? Or am I only supposed to be worrying about my dissertation? I am overwhelmed, but I’m not sure if my workload is normal for a Ph.D. candidate or not. What do you think? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

tree with roots

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