Yesterday, we met up with a couple for dim sum. I’d never met them before but Marv knew the woman from work. Just like it always is when I first meet people, one of the topics of conversation is what I used to do before following Marv around the world. It’s a common concern for business expats like us who move every two or three years to a different country because of one spouse’s job. Many wives feel adrift without extended family, familiar friends, and time-consuming jobs.
The usual exchange:
“What did you get your PhD in?”
“Genetic epidemiology – studying the genetic causes and distribution of diseases in the population.”
“Wow. Do you get to use any of that now?”
What was really funny was how the wife asked first then 30 minutes later when the husband arrived from parking the car, he asked it again completely unaware that his wife had asked the same thing already!
I’m happy to say that yes, I do get a chance to exercise that knowledge now. But even if I didn’t, I don’t necessarily think those years spent in postgraduate education was a complete waste.
My scientific training taught me to think critically and not be afraid to stand up for what I believe in. It also taught me to articulate my thoughts and opinions in a logical fashion instead of in a jumbled mess with no order. That always helps when struggling with a toddler who needs everything laid out plain and simple!
Even though I am not on the career path I might have envisioned when I was in school (who knew what blogs were in the mid 90’s?!), I feel incredibly fortunate to have the chance to try something different. Without Marv to support us, I’d probably be out there slogging away at a “proper” job in a pharmaceutical company, university, or research center. (And I may still work at one of these places but hopefully something that involves more writing than research.) For now, I get to write and think about science every day and be on the cutting edge of a media revolution.
We are all more than our formal training or earning potential. I don’t believe in letting education limit my aspirations; some say I’m overqualified, others say I’m underqualified. I also don’t gauge my success by how much I’m earning. I know my perspective is skewed but I’m putting my knowledge to use in a way that keeps ME happy and fulfilled. And that’s all that really matters.
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