Wednesday, August 21, 2013


With the good news, comes the complication. I was appointed to the T32, which is wonderful, but it spawned a series of errors involving my reclassification that resulted in the loss of my university email for about 30 hours. To get this corrected, I had to explain over and over again why this was a problem for me and why it should be fixed. (As an aside: I feel like this should be obvious to anyone. While I am a lowly postdoc, I do correspond with collaborators from other departments and universities. This is my contact for all official university business, etc. I'd love to use personal email for this stuff, but it's not allowed by university policy. So, yep, obvious.)

Of course, I tweeted about this. I was debating about walking to the building where the admin that could help me was located, but I was hesitant to bother her. I got an overwhelming DO IT from everyone. I was about to answer back something along the lines of "But it's not nice to bother people!" when @SciTriGirl tweeted.

And I realized that I am always* too nice. I never want to bother people about something that I want or even need. I'd rather figure out a way to do without. A few months ago, the lab had to spend out a bunch of money. I had been eyeing a piece of equipment that is relatively inexpensive (~$600) and would make my life easier, but I wouldn't normally spend valuable grant money on. I carefully brought up buying this piece of equipment with my PI and before I even finished speaking he told me to get it. Even if we didn't have the excess money to spend, I should have gotten it. And that I should think bigger (we had a lot of money to spend).

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I always try to say "yes" to everything that people ask. Want me to reconcile some grant accounts? Yes. Write this abstract? Yes. Proofread something? Yes. Add another project to my list? Yes. I don't want to let anyone down by saying "no."

I'm careful about asking for things for myself-- even if I know the other person would be happy to give or help me. I feel selfish when I go for a run after Kiddo is in bed because I'm making Dr. Man solo parent with a sleeping child. (I don't know want to be misinterpreted. Dr. Man doesn't think it's selfish and looked at me like I had two heads when I mentioned that tonight.) I feel horribly selfish that I accepted on of my BFF's offer to babysit Kiddo for my birthday. (She called me and asked if she could do this for me.)

As I was out on my run this evening, I was thinking about all of this. It dawned on me that I don't feel like I deserve to say no to things or to ask for things for myself. I don't feel like it's *nice* thing to do. I shouldn't bother people and I should know my place. WTF, Brain?! Where in the world did I get that idea from? And here I thought I somehow escaped the societal pressure to conform to being a lady.

*Always is hyperbole, but it sounded better than "the majority of the time."


Jenny F. Scientist, PhD said...

1) I totally understand; I used to be like that too;

2) Our lab's rule used to be if it cost under $1000, don't even bother to ask (I mean, antibodies frequently cost $1000!) and if it cost under $3000 tell the PI but it was an automatic yes. Larger-ticket items required purchase order pre-approval, which is why one had to ask.

Psycgirl said...

I have struggled with this a lot. I finally started changing because of 3 things. First, I learned that I am the only person who will place boundaries on my time. Second, I would reach a place of burnout where I would have to dump a bunch of obligations and I realized that is worse than saying no up front. Third - for all I gave, my colleagues and students weren't giving back to me in ways that even remotely balanced things out.

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