27 and a PhD

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When idols fall

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.

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I used to be dazzled by superstars … be them in sports, music, movies .. even in my own church. It probably stemmed  a bit from my mom being enchanted by them, and looking up to them. They were out super stars. They were blameless, and in a different sphere. Special. Spotless. Pretty much non-human.

I can’t remember the first time it happened, but I do remember that a decade or so ago, as my faith in the Catholic Church was crumbling, how the accusations of pedophilia within the ranks of the church still managed to surprise me, to upset me, and to horrify me. Surely there must have been some mistake. How can people that vow to be celibate, even consider a sexual thought, let alone an action. I now realize I was sorta brainwashed. I tried for a long time to reconcile being a strict adherent of my faith, while still trying to make excuses for the horrible, horrible acts that happened for god-knows-how-long to hundreds of thousands of kids and adults. How people in positions of power abused that power, took advantage of their position within the church, and moreover, the faith that people had (mis)placed in them, and caused so much hurt. It was a rough awakening. I learned that idols do fall. When they do, it’s painful. For them and for everyone that vouches for them.

It took me years to process and to try to reconcile the faith I grew up in, and the horrible acts that had been committed (sometimes) in the name of Jesus. Today I consider myself a (very) lapsed Catholic. I hurt every time a new accusation comes up … not because of the damage that it (supposedly) inflicts on the institution, but because that institution has some really well paid devils that will try to quench the desire for justice for all the victims. I hate that people have lost their faiths, not only in God but in the goodness of the human spirit whenever you see the snakes (ie. lawyers) try to defend the indefensible.

The next big blow came when an ex I dated throughout my last few years of undergrad, broke not only my trust, but my faith in him and in everything that I thought we’d built. Many things happened. And just recently I realized that some of what had been done to me had a name … it was called sexual coercion. When that “idol” fell, my soul was crushed. I was crushed yet again. Some I trusted, love and who had some power over me had again broken that trust, and broken something sacred within me.

Sadly, I’d been, slowly but surely, trying to desensitize from the hurt it causes when someone I admire, someone I look up to, falls from grace.

The most recent events are (very sadly) one of the few things that has caused me that pain, that feeling in my stomach, and reminded me that no matter how much or how hard you try to suppress a feeling, or how much you want to be “ready” (if you can even be ready) for when the next wave of idols fall, you never truly are. The blow to your trust in that person just breaks.

I don’t know what to think, other than I feel truly, deeply sorry for each and every one of the women who in one (or more) instances have been affected recent events. I can’t begin to wrap my head around how uncomfortable they felt and feel, the guilt, the pain. Because no matter how much you try to repeat it to yourself, somehow, you’ll feel guilty, when you did nothing, nothing to bring unto you the treatment, the harassment, the moment or moments of inappropriate behaviour. Sadly, as women, we’ve been socialized to feel guilty each and every time someone breaks our trust, someone interferes or invades our personal space and boundaries. It is yet another way in which society, our parents, our community, still fail us.

I also feel sad for his family (esp. his wife). I know I’d be devastated if someone ever divulged very personal and private information about my relationship with them … especially if that someone were my spouse. I know that if honey every talked about our intimate details I’d be broken, sad beyond belief. I know how frustrating and painful it can be to deal with issues our spouses have … and I recognize that I am not perfect. And that sometimes you feel a link to someone, a special connection and you want to unload some of what feels like a burden. That said, it is never, ever correct to do so in a professional setting, especially when you first meet the person. It is not right. It hurts. It traumatizes.

I’m saddened by it all. I’m saddened by the other people out there who may have experienced the same treatment. I’m saddened for the pain and hurt this is bringing to each and every woman that was harassed.

I can only hope that in this same SciX community, they feel welcomed and cared for. There are lots of people who want to offer a sincere shoulder, and all of our support, to help in your moment of need.

I know what it is to have your space invaded, to have an unwelcomed hug (or heck, even a kiss planted on you on Xmas day, at church!), your trust broken. I can only tell you that it will get better. It won’t be easy, but it will get better.

I am sorry. I am here for you.

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2 Comments

  1. Huh says:

    It hurts us all when idols fall. But often we should never make idols of the ones that become them.

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