Do I feed the scientific side of me or the creative side of me?

I got a phone call the other day, finally, after 3 FLIPPING months after I went on THE INTERVIEW for the laboratory position I didn’t even originally think I wanted.   The interview I felt, went pretty decently.  Not that I knocked their socks off, nor that I was hoping to.  I was just glad for the chance to practice interviewing and also to re-live some of the more golden moments of my past life in the laboratory.  I did feel alive talking about what I did, though part of me thinks that was just because of the chance to talk to some people a) over the age of 8 and b) who knew me 17 years ago and could see how I’ve become more self-assured and confident.

In some ways, borrowing this quote from Herman Hesse’s Demian, I think this is what happened to me (which is why the interview lasted for 2.5 hours):

My heart swelled ecstatically at this opportunity to luxuriate in the release of a long pent-up need for talk and communication.

While I was feeling ambivalent about the job opportunity at first, especially since my old colleague called ME up to find out if I wanted to interview with her company, I soon became kind of excited at the prospect of dipping my toes in the pond of the work world again, despite the small obstacles involving day care and such.   I dutifully sent my salary history in and a follow-up thank you letter within a week of my interview.  Only to hear NOTHING.  Not ONE word, for 3 months.

Having nothing to lose, I let it go.  I didn’t even call for a follow-up to find out what. the. eff. happened.  I just wasn’t wanting to be rejected.  So I dropped it completely from my mind.  Well, until I got a phone call two days ago.  The girl who called me in the first place left me a message and asked me what I was up to and if I could give her a call back.

Um…excuse me? No contact for 3 months and now just a friendly phone call.  WTF???

So. Yeah.  I decided to wait to call back.

In the 3 month interim, I spent a great deal of time trying to figure ME out, my goals, my dreams.  I realized, after much reflection, after some talks with my old colleague, friend, mentor and father figure of mine, Dan, that I do NOT want to go back into the lab at this point in my life.  Having visited two of my old laboratories and seeing all the changes taking place – I realized so many rules and regulations and instrumentation and automation of almost EVERY process has taken the art out of the science.  Dan pointed out to me that I would hate going back under these circumstances and advises I work on my creative side for a while.

I also realized, having been on a fairly intense path of reading and discussing some very good literature with my dear friend Bruce, another mentor/father-figure/friend of mine, that there is something to that. I didn’t realize how much of my creative side has been long suppressed due to the more practical needs I had.

I do have a latent creative streak in me.  I denied it for the longest time because I was hell-bent on becoming financially independent from my controlling mother so that I would never have to depend on her again.   I focused on the scientific side of me because it was practical.  And after a while, I was pleased with my reliable income, and with my role of being in a supervisory position in a small genetics laboratory.   There’s something to be said about having a bit of power and influence in your career.  Oh, don’t worry, I was actually quite a fun “boss” over my subordinates.

But this struggle to find a new career path has left me torn between the conflicting sides of me.  Do I pursue what I did before, or do I embark on a new path altogether?  Do I pursue a practical career, or do I nurture the creative side of me?

I keep toying with the idea of becoming a published writer.   I keep toying with the idea of nurturing my love of photography.  I sometimes feel sad at leaving behind a moderately successful scientific career too.  But realistically, with only a bachelor’s degree, I doubt I would have gotten far in my scientific aspirations.

I don’t feel like calling back that old colleague of mine.  Even if it were for an actual “job offer” at this point (which I kind of doubt), I don’t want to be finding myself saying yes, when my heart really isn’t in it and I have trouble saying no.  I know that’s highly unprofessional of me to do so, but heck, I know when I ignore my instincts about something, I usually regret it.  Something is telling me that I really don’t want to go back to my old life but embark on a completely new one.

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