Some days I feel lucky.
Some days I marvel because I have had the chance to travel across the country because of my research. I spent two amazing summers at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota. During my Master’s, I spent two years at the Gray Fossil Site in Gray, Tennessee. This summer I spent three months at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Florissant, Colorado studying paleoclimate. I’ve driven across some of the most beautiful parts of this continent pursuing my passion and I look forward to more of these trips in the future.
Some days I get excited by all of connections I’ve made. I’ve met friends and colleagues both in person and through Twitter. I know that I have people from all sorts of backgrounds, in different stages of their careers, who I can go to for advice or with questions. If I travel or get stranded somewhere in the US I know that I probably wouldn’t have to work too hard to find someone I know to help me.
Most days I am thrilled to do my research. I get to study what I love. I get to do what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. When I tell children that I’m a paleontologist, their eyes light up; they probably have never met a paleontologist before.
Some days I don’t feel so lucky.
Some days I wish that I didn’t have to travel so far. With every step of my career I travel farther and farther from my family and friends. In the past 4 years I’ve spent at least 3 months in 4 different states and I know that this will only get more extreme in the future.
Some days I get discouraged because my friends are spreading farther and farther apart. Without the internet, it would be very difficult to keep tabs on my friends across the world. And, like my own travel, they will also continue to spread apart as they move forward in their careers.
Some days I get told no. No, you can’t actually be a paleontologist. No, your research isn’t relevant. No, we can’t afford to fund you. Academia is a tough gig and a very competitive field; it’s hard to make it. Some days seem harder than others.
Today I feel lucky.