What’s about academia?

It has been many years now since I started to think about the reasons we are so fan (or crazy) about academia. What are we so passionate about? Why do we work so much to succeed? Why sometimes our personal life is totally mixed up to the professional one and even sometimes not our priority?

I love my job, I really do. I love working hours trying to write down ideas and improve texts. I love thinking about my data and how answering my scientific questions. I can see myself, so many times, stuck in my thought because of a script or a text. And when I am in what I call my « bubble », it’s really hard to get me out of it.  All successful researchers I met work hard, from teaching, to developing new projects, supervising, and so on. They work during evenings and week ends, even during holidays (if they take some!). But why? Why do we do that? What is academia so attractive?  Even though we know how complicated it is to get a permanent position, to get funding, why do we still continue to work as hell?

After many years thinking about it, and talking about that with co-workers, I finally started to get some answers.

First, in my own personal case, I want to do a job that I love! I believe this comes from by the fact that I know how you feel when you hate your job. When you do not want to get up in the morning to go working, and you just wait for the week-ends or the holidays. I now have a job I enjoy so much, that I work all the time. And when I can’t, I miss it. I even consider fieldwork as my holidays. Many people hate when I say that, because yes, fieldwork is a lot of work, but I do not see my job as a job anymore. It is a way of living. It is a passion and now that I found my happy place, I do not want to do anything else. It brings me good and bad times, but that’s also what life is! It struck me last summer, during fieldwork. Once again, I met amazing people, devoting a huge part of their life for their research and, surrounding by all of them… I felt home. I really did. And that’s a feeling I want to keep!

Second, a colleague once told me we are like artists. And I strongly believe he is right. We spend hours thinking about how to do our research in the best way as possible. We draw, write, map, and work to make things as clear as possible so that people can see what we see. Isn’ it kind of what an artist does too?

I have now the answer for my own case, and it took me some times but I am in peace with this way of living, with the bad and the good. But what about all the other PhDs student and researchers working as much as I do? If by any change you read this article and want to talk about it, make comments on this post. I am quite sure I am not the only one thinking about that.

Happy researcher life!