I have started a post-doc. Returned to academia. Gone back to research. Eek!
It’s a decision that a number of people have (gently) questioned, but one that many seem to have understood. If I am being honest, it was not a decision that I made lightly – it was made with some trepidation. I left an organisation where I had a good job in science communication; a role where, building on a strong legacy, I felt we were starting to achieve some really good results. However, what I increasingly found myself wanting to do was combine my interests – my research interests and all the things science-related that I have been involved with over the past couple of years.
So, after quite a few awkward Skype interviews and several rejected research proposals, I have got a post-doc. It’s back in the town where I did my PhD: St Andrews. For someone who has lived in London for the past couple of years, it feels very small and isolated. However, I know that I lived here before and I know that I enjoyed it, so any anxiety is probably just that weird feeling that comes from moving to a new place.
What I am worried about, though, is academia. Is the grass greener, simply because it was on the other side of the fence? What have I let myself in for? I am well aware of the scare stories – never switching off, the constant pressure to publish, the lack of opportunities for a ‘real life’. That’s what really concerns me. And the idea that I could do all of that and still find myself unemployable after three years.
Therein lies the challenge. And what should life be about, if not challenges? I am sure my goals will change over the next couple of years, but for the moment, let’s give academia a damn good shot and see what comes of it.