Persistence is overrated

My conversation with my boss this afternoon.

[A little bit of background. She took off for the weekend and came to work late Monday morning. Didn’t find me in the lab or the promised samples. After a few angry texts and my useless apologies, we called it a night]

Boss: So you are telling me you haven’t worked for 4 days? You knew I was gone and you didn’t come in.

Me: Yes.

Boss: What should I think about that? You do want to do your PhD right?

Me: Yes.

Boss: Swetha, how do you think I should handle this??? I know people with depression but going off of work for 4 days? Really?

Me: *big sigh* I was down with flu on the weekend, then I came into work Sunday night.  (I was actually telling the truth!!!!) Then, I saw my culture plates from Friday night. The cloning didn’t work. Again.

Boss: So-

[I cut her off]

Me: I was depressed all Monday. Couldn’t come into work because I’m beyond frustrated. [there’s no life in me anymore, internal screaming!!] But, when I got your texts, I did get off my butt, dragged my ass into work and set the PCR up for you.

Boss: So, what’s your next plan?

Me: blah blah blah [it’s scientific stuff!]

So, persistence, like people loose to remind me – the act of showing up every single day – is vastly overrated. How long will you persist? Weeks? Months? Years? I have been persisting since I was born. What happened? I never get rewarded.

10th standard board exams: in spite of doing phenomenal, got lower scores than people 20 points behind me during the school year

undergrad entrance exams:  didn’t do shit so I guess I deserved it

grad school entrance exams: got knocked off course despite getting all-india 590 rank because of my caste

I still persisted. There was no door that I haven’t knocked to get research experience only to be rejected everywhere. People offered empty advice but nothing concrete. I fought and “persisted”.

I’m in the PhD program now. And, my project is at a stand-still despite me putting in 14 hour days including weekends most of the time.

Persistence is a wily word used to give general, unhelpful advice. You don’t know anything until you walked a mile in my shoe. Fuck persistence! I give up.



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