So I searched on Google "How do you know when you are in love" and tons of articles came up,
- 10 Definitive Ways To Tell You’re In Love With The Right Someone
- 7 research-based indicators that you've found the real thing.
- 9 Signs You're Really in Love
Now while these are all articles focused on one person falling in love with another... ‘Til death do us part kind of shindig... it should be no different as you fall in love with your research.
So here are 7 ways to know you truly know you have fallen in love with your research:
1. You are addicted to your research: Love ultimately changes the brain. You get that euphoria as your dopamine rich areas of your brain increase with neural activity. You then start obsessively thinking about your project. In the middle of dinner words people say send you on a world of thoughts of your project, though they have no direct link to it. I had a friend once send me a message with a typo (conversation focused on Jamaica), and it just looked exactly like an abbreviation I would use in my research. Immediately, I started thinking of my experiments and thinking of my results from the day before... It was that simple.
2. You really want your friends or family to pretend they understand or at least accept your research as cool: While you may never be able to explain to them the depths of your research, it is hard to not have them understand why you love your research so much. Even more so, they always seem to confuse you with medical doctor's asking you about diagnosis, or when you will start seeing patients. Quite frankly, the only patient's you may see are cells and maybe some mice or rats. But in the end, their sense of approval has you explain to them every time, just why you love what you do, and why you love going into lab everyday.
3. Your sense of self has grown through working on your project: You came into your project going, what the heck does my mentor really want me to do? Now you are the most expert person in the field, and your mentor is the one saying, what the heck are they saying? Working on your project has forced you to grow and improve yourself as a scientist. It has molded you to become the best version of yourself needed for you to rock out on your qualifying exam and dissertation. I personally am still evolving with my project, I have started thinking in a whole new light and really taking charge of the direction I am going in. I hated reading journals and it taking me forever to understand what they were trying to tell me. Now, I truly like the fact that my knowledge in the field has grown where I can go through an article and get what I need from it in most cases.
4. You prioritize your research above your own needs: Love for your research is indeed selfless. You were the most important in the world until you started on your amazing project. You find yourself staying up later, though it is much needed sleep, to read another article related to your project. You often forget to eat or leave lunch for later hours than the usual noon, because your project requires more of your attention at that time. Clearly your needs start to be quite trivial in comparison to the needs of your research. I can't tell the last time, I looked at the clock at ate lunch at the same hour. Whenever time permits, that's when I have lunch. I wake up and head to lab 6-7 every day, and whenever time allows, I go home. It truly is something I can't get enough of and meeting the needs and wants of my project, gives me the sense of satisfaction.
5. Your research is one of the first things you think about: When you wake up, you immediately start thinking of whether or not results today will be something worthwhile aka publishable! Your research is the last thing you think about most often before going to bed. As you figure out more ways to get test your hypothesis. Whether it is good or bad you just can't stop thinking about what the results truly mean and your direction moving forward. By 5 am, I am up and already beginning my obsession of my project. Even while working out, I find myself drifting into thoughts of results, and what I should really get done that day in lab.
6. You think long-term: When you fall in love, it is difficult to imagine your life without that thing. So you begin thinking how you can start building your life with your research, so you can live happily every after. Searching for post-doc opportunities in the field, or a grant. Either way… you are pretty much ready to say "I do." Since I fell in love with my research, I have already started exploring how to make a larger project out of my work for my post-doc. While my dissertation will focus on just a small area of it, I just know what I do can really keep me excited and focused for a long time.
7. You secretly love the imperfections of research: You're research has many imperfections- but to you they are unique qualities of your research that make it your own. The fact that it takes forever to get results that are meaningful, or the fact that it seems repeating the takes forever! Either way, you tease other about it and may even be teased... but in the end.. it's your research... and quite frankly you love working out the kinks. I have started loving the question for explaining what the heck is happening, I am not sure at what point that happened in my path... but so glad it did. I used to be a bit bummed by negative results, and now it’s like a new challenge for self-growth and improves upon my research.
If you wanted to be a scientist for the money, quite frankly you chose the wrong profession. Getting your PhD gives you an intellectual satisfaction and fills your passion of those unanswered question. Even though I am heading on my Christmas break, I definitely will be taking my research with me to celebrate with my family.... I have a review to finish, experiments to analyze, powerpoint presentation to have completed upon my return, and experiments to plan. Call me a nerd... but I am looking forward to it!!!
Have you falling in love with your research? Share what you work on and how you know you are in love with it!!! (No judgment zone, you can share the weird love tunes you sing to your cells from time to time *smiles*