Sunday, June 10, 2012

One Hundred Eighty Degrees

One Hundred Eighty Degrees

    It’s funny how fast things can change. Last week at this time, I was in the University of Michigan’s library, taking a practice Graduate Record Examination (GRE), preparing myself for the real deal this upcoming fall. Over the last few days, I feel that the Lord has revealed to me through several different ways that pursing a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry is not in His plans for me.
    Overall, it was a frustrating and difficult week in the lab for me. My graduate student who is assigned to mentor me had to leave for five weeks to get trained in for a Post-Doc he’s starting this fall. I felt stressed and had no reason to be. After spending a week in a graduate setting, I feel that I’ve already obtained much more insight into what life in grad school would be like – a life I don’t think is for me. Research entices me because you’re diving into the unknown, trying to make and do things nobody has ever done before.
    So far, I’ve synthesized a new Metallacrown in several different solvents, however my remaining time here will be spent trying to isolate it by growing quality crystals in order to further characterize my product using X-Ray Crystallography. Essentially, I’m this guy:

    The unfortunate part of research is that it’s 99% fail and 1% success. In the coming weeks I’ll be setting up thousands of different crystallizations, and even if only one succeeds, I will have accomplished a whole heck of a lot. Finding the conditions necessary to produce crystals is the Holy Grail of my project.
    The fear of failing doesn’t bother me; I already manage plenty of that everyday. The aspect I became most frightened about this week was the fear of my future. After some reflection, I realized that I don’t really have a plan B. If grad school didn’t work out, I wasn’t really sure what I would do. Maybe get an entry-level position in industry?
    After further evaluation, these thoughts left me discontent as well. The reason I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. was so some day I could be a professor at a small institution, and mentor young adults, offering them wisdom and advice to pursue and achieve their wildest dreams! I couldn’t really do that in an industrial setting, but this passion of mine, helping people in my profession, has lead me to strongly consider another profession which I think would be a great fit (but more on that next time).
    Right now, I feel a great sense of peace regarding my future. It’s somewhat uncertain right now, but I know that it will still incorporate science. My parents are wonderful and have been able to comfort me and offer wisdom throughout these few days. This story my dad sent me particularly resonated with my emotions. I feared that I was being sucked into the black hole of graduate school with no return. Headed down a path that wouldn’t lead to a satisfied life, a life where I’d have proper work-life balance.
    The most encouraging aspect of this journey for me has been God’s promises. The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom, and these two verses offer great comfort:

The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one Rests content, untouched by trouble. – Proverbs 19:23

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and understanding, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight. – Proverbs 3:5,6

    I feel that the Lord has revealed to me that grad school is not in his plans for me. I remain uncertain of His plan for me, but I know because I’ve placed me heart in His hands, He will lead me to the career and place exactly where He wants me. 

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