I have this weird tendency to categorize my workdays and give them odd names. For example, “Diet Coke Days” are days were I’m completely stressed out to the point that coffee makes me sick to my stomach and I have to switch to diet coke*. Yesterday was an “Impossible Day”. Impossible days are the days I hate the most.
Impossible days are the ones where I think this journey to obtain a TT position is impossible. These are the days where I judge myself against the progress and accomplishments of my peers and think, “There is no way. I should just quit now.” I compare my CV to others. I look at my publications and wish there were more and in higher impacts journals. I think about the mountain of work that needs to be done, how I’m only one person, and how it is impossible for me to finish it by my PI’s deadline. I begin to feel like this thing that I’ve worked so hard for, and my family has sacrificed so much for, is getting further and further away. I’m running as fast as I can, but I’m drowning. That at the end of the day, no matter how hard I try or what I do, it will not matter. I will be another statistic, another female who could not balance her family life and academia and decided to leave.
But last night I realized something. As I was watching Wendy Davis and the other senators and citizens stand up for women’s rights in the state of Texas, I realized that I am not alone. There are women in academia that, like Wendy Davis, stood up and made it possible for me to be where I am. I know I can do it because THEY have done it. They did it in a time when it was even more improbable. More importantly, I know I can do this because I WANT to be here. I absolutely love what I do. I have not dragged my family through physical separation after separation to walk away without a fight. If I quit because I am momentarily discouraged what would that say to all the women who paved the way before me? The glass ceiling has been broken, but that doesn’t mean all of the shards have been removed. As we continue to go through, we will get cut, scraped, and bruised. However, with each cut a shard in that ceiling is lost making it that much easier for the next woman. I owe it to myself, my family, and to those women to not give up on my dreams. Yes, it is hard, but it is not impossible.
* You really don’t want to mess with me on these days.