This Friday was apparently one of those rare days upon which everything spontaneously goes right. By this I mean that I was able to make a series of conquests in various different fields, among them:

  • Thesis Research: You may recall that I had one annoying little problem with my thesis that I could not, for the life of me, seem to resolve. I tried multiple different techniques, but none of them seemed to bear fruit. None of them, that is, until this week. My unresolved thesis issue was resolved late yesterday afternoon. I intend to submit my final draft by next Friday.
  • Identity: While on my way to my office, I interacted with one of my professors in full feminine presentation. It did not even occur to me that there was anything unusual about my appearance until several minutes afterwards.
  • Career: You may or may not have discerned that I’m actually fairly miserable doing what I’m doing right now. What I’ve come to realize though is that the problem is that I am, by inclination, a “big picture person:” I want to learn about lots of things, preferably big, general things rather than ever diminishing levels of detail. This is actually why I went into physics in the first place; I wanted to learn how the universe worked and this seemed the best discipline to teach me. However, in doing so, I have (somewhat perversely) constrained myself to an ever narrower focus–first of all having to ignore (in terms of serious academic analysis) everything which is not physics, and then zooming-in on gravity, and then zooming in on Einsteinian gravitation, and then zooming in on black holes, and then upon fluid analogues of black holes, and then on their ringing-mode spectra until I am spending months of my life performing calculations on a subject that literally no one in the universe cares about: even I find myself completely unmotivated: I feel like my supervisor is just trying to get a degree in my hand, and send me out the door. So I spoke to a career advisor yesterday, who encouraged me to look into fields which would allow me to avoid such specialization, and pointed out that any attempt to subordinate my own happiness to money-making potential would ultimately fail due to the fact that I would not be able to maintain my interest. She also noted, perhaps non-coincidentally, that the only time that my face lit-up during the entire hour-long interview was when I spoke about my writing. As a result, I have modified my plan: while I am still going to try an economics course in the new semester, if I don’t find it absolutely fascinating then I am simply not going to do it, money-making ability be damned.

About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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2 Responses to Conquests

  1. David Yerle says:

    I quit a PhD in QFT precisely because of the reasons you state. I studied physics to know about the “what” of the universe and ended up focusing on the next decimal place of some scattering I couldn’t care less about. Hope it ends up better for you than for me!

    • This is precisely why I didn’t transfer directly into a PhD program. I want a chance to reevaluate my options after I get my Master’s: and at present, I think it vanishingly unlikely that I will ultimately continue in Physics.
      I am curious, though: what did you ultimately end-up doing afterwards?

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