Freedom and burn-out

It is barely one year since I left my science career, very tired and burnt out. Very strange that it is only about 1.5 years ago that it would have been normal for me to spend all day thinking about a sub-sub-field of physics, normal since 10 years, or if I count my undergrads, normal to think about maths and physics all day for 14 years. Two times seven years.

All the more it amazes me that I am now officially enrolled in two University seminars about burn-out! Taught by two real psychologists who are experts in the area. Tonight I was reading fascinating literature by Aaron Antonovsky about the topic for the next class and feeling very happy. Reading psychological self-help literature is one of my obsessions, and it is great to finally read something deeper about psychology and being allowed to discuss it with others. Ha! I get credit points for doing things that I would do voluntarily.

I feel like I was in the middle of doing a average-interesting scientific project with doing a Master for high school teachers and suddenly hit something truly fascinating. Maybe, maybe, maybe this is the first sign that I am taking a slight detour from becoming a high school teacher, and going to get another degree in psychology, or something like this, although I know that is a truly crazy idea. The first social psychology lecture that I sat in for fun this week fascinated me so much that I am waiting for the next one impatiently. I have never before felt this way about a lecture.

How amazing it is that my (maybe unfortunate) decision to do two postdocs in physics does not stop me from now being at Uni learning about psychology! In fact, I am allowed to do that, I am allowed to get a second degree and allowed to change directions of my life completely, if I want that. I guess the realization of how free I truly am is only slowly sinking in. I apparently did not mess up my life as badly as I once thought.

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1 Response to Freedom and burn-out

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dear Zimenin,
    I read your posts on the disastrous interview (sorry I am probably 2-3 years late to comment on that). I just wanted to say that the only panel I know of which is as large and as “scary” as you suggest is the one that you can find at the Max Planck Junior Group Leader competition. If that is what you are referring to then I would say that your description is reasonably accurate. On the other hand I can assure you that this situation is pretty much the exception: usually panels are smaller, and if it’s for faculty positions they are usually very polite since you could become a close colleague until retirement. I am writing this just to say that I am sorry that these did not work nicely that day, but as in everything there are also nice people trying their best to make the candidates confortable.

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