Expectations vs. reality

14 February 2014

'When we plan for the future, we often have a linear line in mind. We think in terms of “I do this now, so I can do that later”. Life, however, is not a linear line and definitely not something you can plan.'

graph from aluminblog ABC

This graph consists of two lines – a linear one, and a non-linear one that looks more like a roller-coaster track.

'Before I had finished my second internship I got an offer to stay in the lab to obtain a PhD. I was happy. Everything had gone according to the plan. Ever since I started University, back in 2007, a PhD had been something I had had in mind.

But only a few weeks after I started working, and just two weeks before I had to hand in my final research plan, I realized something was wrong. And here is where my linear line starts to take a different direction.

I told the PI I wouldn’t hand in my research plan. I told him I don’t want to do a PhD, not now.  I felt that the direction I was going in was not the direction I wanted to go.  

I still think it would be interesting to do a PhD, sometime. I love cognitive neuroscience. But there are so many other things I also want to do – things that are more appealing to me right now.

I’ve discovered professions such as future strategist, consultant, and project manager, just to mention a few. And I’m sure there are more things out there (outside the academia) to discover.

Right now I work as a Research Assistant, still in the same lab. I’ve just finished a study and are currently starting up a new one. I will stay in the lab until summer to finish the work I’ve started. I love the projects I work with, so I don’t mind.

In the meantime I will try to figure out what I want to do. I’m sure something exciting will show up. And you know what, I enjoy every second of this non-linear curve.  It’s scary, but exciting at the same time.

It’s OK to change your mind. Follow your intuition. That’s something I’ve always done, and always will do.

”The only ones who are 100 % consistent are those who are dead”, a wise person once said.

Lets see where on the roller coaster curve I will be in three months when my next update will come.'

-  Elin Helander

Published by  Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC)