I struggle to keep my identity separate from my research.
As a scientist, it’s very easy to intertwine your identity and sense of self with the research projects you’ve been working on for weeks, months, or even years. It’s even easier to embrace the setbacks and failures in your work as a reflection of yourself. I’ve realised that my emotions often reflect the state of my research. On days when I successfully uncover the answers I’ve been looking for, I embrace the excitement with open arms and bask in the sense of accomplishment. Those days are great, but unfortunately, they’re rare. Most days, nothing seems to work and my results are disappointing, to say the least, so I internalise question my self-worth and bathe in self-doubt.
For a long time, I thought this was completely normal and acceptable. I’m allowed to be upset if I’ve had a terrible day with my research, right? Right, but it shouldn’t dictate my well-being. I am fortunate enough to have friends and family that genuinely care about me and love me. I am fortunate enough to have travelled and had so many enriching experiences. I am fortunate enough to have the ability to do the things I love. Yet, if I’m struggling in my research, I struggle to find joy in anything else.
Recently, I’ve been trying to distinguish myself from my research. In trying to establish “Elvisha the person” separately from “Elvisha the scientist“, I’ve come to the realisation that I struggle with fully understanding who I am once I take my research out of the equation. It’s most obvious to me when I’m in an unfamiliar setting or meeting new people. I spend so much time every day as a scientist, that it has become my go-to identity that I can always rely on in uncomfortable situations.
Yes, I am a scientist. But I am also a daughter. A sister. A friend. A partner. A hiker. An explorer. A reader. A cook. An artist. A kayaker. A mentor. A teacher. A writer. And so much more.
Over the next few months, I’m going to take some time to explore my interests and give myself time to be me. My goal is to spend at least half an hour each day becoming myself and becoming more than just a scientist.