27 and a PhD

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Closer to Friday … do you feel the same?

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.


October 2010
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Ok, the post’s title may not make much sense at first, but please stay with me. This is important. I recently tweeted in reply to a fellow blogger’s acknowledgement that in the East Coast it is past noon, that I’m happy for this, and also, that it means we’re way closer to Friday than before.

If you know me, you know that I live for Friday’s. Come Friday afternoon, at 4:30pm and you will find me singing or tweeting about the weekend, or something along those lines. Fridays just make me friggin’ happy. As in I start altering the lyrics to “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” to things like “It’s the most wonderful time of the week, or the day, or the hour or any other time variation. Seriously.

Now, I’ve been paying attention to this for a while. I cannot remember if this started back in high school, college or grad school. Or whether this is just a reponse to how much my current area of research frustrates me. Whatever the cause, I’ve been paying extra attention to how I feel on Fridays. In a way I like it. I’m free, I can wake up the next two days at whatever time I want, I usually do not need to show to the lab, and there’s this sense of happiness that I cannot describe. Now, come Sunday … and … you can guess how I feel. Depending on my hormones, it can range from a complete state of bleh, to complaining all day long about how miserable I’m going to be on Monday, or how many meetings will keep me from doing experiments at the start of the week, etc, etc, etc.

Now, some of my tweeps love to express their love/like for Fridays too. Most of these tweeps are scientists or in some form of an career in academics.

My question is, do all of my tweeps, or readers feel the same? Even if your job is your dream job, do you find yourself enjoying Fridays more than any other day? Is this a reflection of how much I/you dislike working? Or do we all feel “trapped” in a way, even if we currently work at our dream job, and thinking about friday afternoon serves as a common escape? Do you believe in “dream jobs?” If you currently love where you work, or your type of work, do you find yourself extra happy when Friday afternoon rolls in, even while working in Dream Lab/Uni/Company?

I’m always obsessed about being and feeling “normal.” I’m asking these questions because I’d really like to get a general feel/sense for how others feel regarding the weekend, especially if they/you are in a place/situation/job that you define as your most desirable setting. Any thoughts?


  1. DF says:

    I would like to reply to this first: Do you believe in “dream jobs?”

    I have struggled with this one as well. Like you, my motivation to do science at all is dwindling and I think the only motivation is “What else am I going to do or am I good at,” or more to the point, “will someone pay me a livable wage for?” I also wonder whether I am perpetually unhappy and if I had a good position, would I just sabotage it with internal negativity or self doubt. I have developed my own theory that is based loosely on epigenetics. If our environment can have a direct effect on our expressed genome, perhaps the stress and anxiety that incurred in my graduate years (which I have always been prone to) fundamentally changed me making me more and more prone to stress and anxiety and ultimately resulting in a general sense of unhappiness when in this environment. If so, then perhaps there is a way to reverse this environmental change over the next several years by making life style changes now. But how?

    There may be a dream job out there but I think a very few lucky people actually know what that is for themselves. I also think some people, probably the vast majority, likely never find it. So, there are likely shades of gray between where a job will feel not too bad and not too good. A dream job for me would have to include not bringing work, stress, or anxiety home.

    Your comments about the happiness of Friday starts for me on Tuesday. Each day closer to the weekend is one less that I have to endure. Though even Fridays do not lead to complete happiness because I know I have to return on Monday. Vacations actually make it worse as I get more accustomed to that good feeling and the shock of returning to work is more severe.

    On a side note, I wonder how many scientists change song titles to fit their activity or mood. I know I do.

  2. Dr. 29 says:

    Seriously DF, this made me gasp “I also wonder whether I am perpetually unhappy and if I had a good position, would I just sabotage it with internal negativity or self doubt.” I’ve felt the same way. When I was in grad school I used to bitch and moan about how things weren’t they way I thought they should be for student. Overall, my experience in my PhD lab was awesome, but like always, they uni could have done more. Same thing happens where I currently work, with the addition that I just don’t really feel a connection to my lab, the work and some of my labmates. I didn’t make a connection until one day the BF got all frustrated because I was in one of my tirades and he said “do you realise you weren’t as happy as you think you were back in grad school?” He pointed out some of my main complaints, and some were similar in both places (current and former unis).

    I do believe that epigenetics does and can play a role in my work life and how happy/successful I feel. Like you I hate going on vacation because no matter how many pep talks I give myself before coming back, I end up being frustrated. Like you I’ve wondered “What else am I going to do or am I good at,” or “will someone pay me a livable wage for?” Yes, these thoughts have consumed my days and nights for a while. And I came to the realisation that I love science, I love teaching it, engaging people in it and doing non-wet lab things (like pipetting and growing!). And I found a posting for a position I think I would enjoy … so I’m preparing for that one, hoping that even if I don’t get it, I can do job searches within that area and get that job that will finally let me enjoy science on my time, my rules, a good-paying salary (I think we’ve been tricked into believing that we only deserve so-little for our hard-earned talents and abilities), and something that lets me enjoy life.

  3. Dr. 29 says:

    Oh, and Thanks for the comment. You echo the way I feel. Thanks 🙂

  4. DF says:

    Well, I wish you the best of luck with the application process. For me, I think taking a break from a direct research role might help, although I do enjoy some wetlab work (when it works). I am curious, what sort of positions you are looking for. If you have found happiness in a possible line of work, what drew you to finding it? We are somewhat similar, so I would like to know if it would also work for someone like me. My interests right now range from science outreach, writing, editing, science admin, and teaching. Problem is, there are very few listings in the geographical area I want to move to.

  5. Slamdunk says:

    Since becoming a father a decade ago, Friday means a busy weekend of kid activities, so I look at Monday as a chance to rest in a way…

    Good skill with your career decisions.

    • Dr. 29 says:

      I bet it is a welcoming break from the hustle and buzz from the weekend. Thanks for commenting. It offers a different perspective on which days to love/prefer on the week. Thanks for visiting 🙂

  6. Catalina I.V. says:

    I look forward to Fridays when I love the work I’m doing. I look forward to long weekends and vacations.

    I look forward any break humanly possible, every day of the week, when I dislike the work that I’m doing. I make excuses to leave 5 minutes early. I stretch lunch hour from beginning to end.

    Everyone just needs breaks, and how much you like/dislike your work determines the extent of those breaks.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by 28 and a PhD, 28 and a PhD. 28 and a PhD said: New post: Closer to Friday … do you feel the same?: http://t.co/f4HPyQ7 Do you LOVE Fridays, even while working at ur dream job? […]

  8. Dr. 29 says:

    Thank you for your comment Catalina! It makes a whole lot of sense. It’s very, very helpful!

  9. Ally says:

    I stumbled upon your post and feel completely in sync with your thoughts. I am in my mid 20s and looking at my future career path wondering whether this is it. Sure, I have a decent salary working at a fortune 500 company, but if I had money, I certainly wouldn’t be here. As to the feeling you get after a vacation, I couldn’t resonate more. January always seem to be the most depressing month after couple weeks of not thinking about work and feeling like the happiest person on the planet. I used to be very optimistic about the real world, but now I realize why they call it that. When I was in school I couldn’t wait to graduate to make money, but now that I’m out, I miss going to classes and actually LEARNING something. So to answer your question – Yes I live for Fridays, and No – I haven’t figured out the secret yet. I don’t think there’s really a dream job for most people, and if there is – it has its share of burdens. That’s why they call it “work”. At least I recognize that now, but I don’t know the secret to making my week go by faster. I just know that to enjoy life, you’ll have to work hard so you can have financial freedom to live. Good luck with your endeavours and I look forward to reading your future posts.

    • Dr. 29 says:

      Thanks for visiting Ally. This part especially resonated with how I’m feeling: “January always seem to be the most depressing month after couple weeks of not thinking about work and feeling like the happiest person on the planet.” I had an especially rough time coming back after being with my family and away from it all. You’re right, it is called work for a reason. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  10. […] I decided on the title because while talking to honey the other night, I mentioned how different Sunday afternoons felt, compared to when I was a postdoc. I decided to look back at what I’d written exactly a year […]

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