How Casey got her groove back – part I

This is the first in hopefully several installments of how I figure out where I want to go from here. The title is a bit of a misnomer, because it hasn’t happened just yet. But I will find my groove, eventually. This is the start of that process.

I am in a bit of internal conflict. Well, I have been for 4.5 years, ever since I quit my job to raise my girls when my middle child was 9 months old. I walked away from a career in the biotech field. My last job was in a clinical medical genetics lab.

I always had direction. I had a passion for science. I had a passion for challenging myself. While I didn’t have a specific map of where I wanted to go, I did have an internal compass to keep me on track. Even when I found myself veering off course momentarily due to distractions (family dysfunction, boyfriend stuff etc), I adjusted my steps and got back on track and eventually got into a very productive career in biotechnology.

Now, 4.5 years later, I’m still no more certain of what I want to do than when I left. I was supposed to take this time to figure it out. It’s like my internal compass is broken and I have no guide.

I found my old school records – from high school and college. I was dealing with a lot of family stress, and working part time from senior year of high school through college. Yet I had numerous awards, took advantage of the schools honor programs, took a college level English class while still in high school, got accepted to a prestigious university (ended up turning them down to go somewhere else because my mom wouldn’t let me live on campus, and yet years later, ended up working at the same prestigious university).

And now…there’s been nothing calling out to me. I was attracted to the science field because I was good at science. I had great lab skills, too. But the clinical work (forensics and medical genetics) had too many rules and regulations and stress because if you didn’t dot every i and cross every t, you could be in trouble. When my kids came, it was easy to walk away from it when I had the chance to.

But now, at 38, and now that my youngest is 3 and I am not having anymore kids, I want to find my groove again. I can’t embrace the science at the moment. Perhaps in time, but not right now.

I look back at what all my records prove over and over again. I have gifts in the area of science. Only now, I think my talent for science has atrophied. I really don’t know if I have the motivation to pick the reins again.

I worry that I lost my intelligence, and now I’m not any good for anything too difficult to wrap my brain around (like most scientific literature). I worry that I no longer can evaluate things critically anymore.

I could go back to my old university, and I have, but at the last minute decided against taking a science class and took a human development class instead. Very interesting, and I aced it, but it didn’t help me decide what to pursue next.

And here’s the kicker…

Now that I’m raising all girls, I worry about how to be advising them with their talents if I can’t even figure this thing out for myself. Granted, I have time as they are all little, but still, the family thing changes so much for women and they are stuck in the middle of some hard choices.

Any advice on how I should sort this out?

I used to be able to figure things out with empathetic friends growing up, only now I seem to alienate the adult friends I did have. I haven’t spoken to anyone in any sort of depth outside the family for about a month.

I was thinking I really wish I could find a counselor who is familiar with gifted adult issues, but I’m not sure how I would find one.

Is there anyone else who has gone through a similar transformation/life adjustment while successfully balancing personal growth with the needs of the family?

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2 Responses to How Casey got her groove back – part I

  1. spacemom says:

    Also 37 (almost 38) and also a scientist. But I don’t DO science really. I work with a satellite. I do software, I do data analysis, I do operation reviews, but I haven’t done pure science in a long time.

    This was not my plan. I had planned on getting my PhD, going on to great research. Alas, I got married, found an entry level job at one of the US premier Observatories and had kids.

    As a personal bias, I think you need to step back and say “what is science?” I think you are holding yourself to a narrow corridor of what you did before kids. There are SO many things you can do instead of pure research or lab work.

    Have you considered computer programming? It has the problem solving fun of science, and is a great business sector. How about scientific editing? Or layout?

    Your intelligence isn’t gone. Is has slept while you sang “row row row your boat”. Now it is time to work it again!

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Unless computer programming has vastly changed (and yes, I realize it has), I had a few courses in programming, namely Pascal and C. I really don’t remember much about Pascal, but I remember C being really hard for me to understand. It seemed like a lot of lines of code for a “eh” end result.

    Scientific editing. Hmm… I really am not the greatest proofreader. Something that’s kind of important to the task.

    But it makes me think of scientific writing for children. I absolutely love children’s scientific magazines, and the Magic Treehouse series.

    Even if I don’t pursue anything, I have desktop publisher, and once I wrote a newsletter for my daughter about the things we worked on over the summer.

    Come to think of it, I’m going to use that newsletter for our Christmas letter this year I think. Thanks for the brainstorming session.

    I know some great things come out of people because they were just “doing it for their kids”.

    Hmm…have to think very seriously about this. Thank you for turning the key to get my gears started.

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