I saw Jane today, told her the doctor says I’m not depressed, showed her the lists I made.

I can’t talk freely or openly with her about my work or PhD or how i feel, the way I can for instance with D. She intimidates me and it makes me unable to think straight or get the words out.

She told me that I was pathetic, that if the worse thing in life I have to deal with is my experiments not working then I need to grow up. That nobody is going to employ someone who lacks pateince and does half-arsed jobs. That I am being melodramatic and a drama queen and just building everything up round this Oz trip. She also tried to convince me to stay in some way, by telling me my mutants were interesting, and that that is what you learn in a PhD, to bang your head against a wall and feel no pain.

I just feel so frustrated and angry because I couldnt stand up to her or tell her how I feel. I can’t even explain now as I feel like a failure, I do feel pathetic, she messes with my head and I just feel so low and so down I hate her and even that is pointless.

If I was to write a letter, I’d write (excluding the brackets which are just my thoughts)…

Dear Jane and whoever

I dont want to carry on with my PhD. I want to write up the work I have as a masters. You will probably tell me that I am pathetic as you already have done, but I don’t think it means I am a failure if I admit I dont like something (even here I sound like I’m questioning, not sue of myself, like I expect her to look down on me and shout at me or whatever, ahh why am i so shite!?). I am having to write this in a letter as I find it impossible to tell you how I feel to your face. I know this will make you think I am a coward and even more pathetic (and this is how I feel)but I do find you very intimidating, and when I talk to you I feel I can’t voice my own opinion correctly, I can’t stand up for myself. You will see this as a weakness and it’s partly because of how you treat me that I feel like this. I said I can’t work up the energy and motivation to go through with another set of experiments because I feel like they wont work anyways and that they are pointless. You said of course they wont work if I go in with a negative attitude, but then when I am proud of something or I show you some data I think has potential you tell me it’s crap- specific examples being SEMs, hormone data, PCR and sectioning. So how am I supposed to have confidence in myself if you always put me down and make me feel worthless? And not only do you make me feel bad in my lab work, you also have told e over the course of my PhD that I am fat, that I look a mess, that I can’t speak English, that I am a waste of space, that I am pathetic, that there must be something wrong with me, that I am sick etc etc. You told me to divorce my husband then when i have a new boyfriend you say you liked my husband better. You always slagged by husband off and told me I stank of pachouli oil, and many more examples. You’ve impersonated me infront of others and made me feel worthless. You made me cry once by drawing a diagram on the lab white board of my ‘tree-trunk legs’. And you have never once apologised. I usually just shrug it off, half of me can’t actually believe you said or mean what you said, but part of the reason I am not enjoying this PhD is because I find it hard to work with you. I can feel your eyes narrowing now and thinking I am a coward for not saying anything before, I can hear you telling me I am feeling worthless not because of anything that you’ve done but because of myself, that I should feel disappointed in myself, basically for being me.

And I do feel a coward for not being able to tell you to your face (instead writing this letter that I’ll never send in my blog) and I do feel pathetic, but I also feel so frustrated because I don’t think I am pathetic. I have come to the stage in my PhD where I have realised academic science isn’t for me for many reasons and it doesn’t mean I will be a failure all my life as you will now expect, and I think it is fine to stand up and say it and I shouldn’t be have to made feel like a worthless piece of shit. I am happy in my life, I am not depressed, i am looking forward to moving on and not feeling like you are controlling or interfering in my life. I am looking forward to not feeling pointless and being abused at work.

I don’t mean to be nasty but I think you should know how I feel and how you treat others as I hope you can also learn from this and think moe before you speak. You are in a position of power with a very strong personality and it makes it very hard to contradict or stand up to you: I think I am quite a strong person so I wonder how hard other people find it. I know others who have noticed your behaviour, not just to themseleves but towards me, and have mentioned it to me. I am not sure why you say such things to me and not to others, maybe because you know I am stronger than some and won’t break down in tears straight away, although at this moment in time I am feeling very worn down by it all and feel myself on the verge of tears when talking to you a lot. I don’t want to be like this and so i feel it best if I stop working with you as soon as possible. Maybe because I am a girl- I’v heard you say negative things to other women in the lab now and again but not to the boys, I’m not sure if you realise this.

I don’t think you will want to talk to me once you receive this (which I am not going to send, I wish I could say it to her face) but i hope we can both learn from it. I will talk to the other members of my committee to see whether it is possible to write a masters from my work. If not, then it is unfortunate but I am looking forward to my life. I hope you have a nice life too, I mean you no harm, and although i can see you reading this as me being a drama queen as you keep trying to tell me, and seeing me as a messed up individual, I don’t think i am the one who is messed up Jane. I hope you are grown up enough- yes, despite telling me I need to grow up, who was the one making faces behind my back in lab meeting, impersonating me infront of others, tapping their feet etc etc- to take this for what it is, me trying to tell you why I want to leave, and not to make your own interpretation that you will laugh at with others to make yourself feel better.

thank you for your help and support when it has been there

(Strange Scottish Girl)


2 thoughts on “pathetic

  1. Woah!!!!! Where is her email address…I want to send this to her!!! Chris???? Get me this woman’s email address….

    Right, I also want to talk to you SSG…..where is all this self loathing coming from??????? And if any part of what you are describing as her behaviour is true (I’m not suggesting it’s not…just trying to keep objective) she has behaved in an incredibly unprofessional manner; some of it borders on bullying and harrassment!

    She has got some points about resilience and patience but I think she is missing YOUR point. You’ve told her you don’t have the passion. You’ve told her you think science may not be for you (you HAVE told her haven’t you??). There is no point being resilient or patient with something which you no longer want to do for a living (and let’s face it…there are scarce enough jobs out there for PhD grads, particularly in research!) Tell her you are just wasting time there and need to get on and find out what you really DO want to do with your life.
    There is nothing worse than working with someone who makes your tongue go thick when you try to explain yourself. Practise some ‘I’ messages.
    ‘I’ don’t want to do this PhD Jane.
    ‘I’ think there is more to life than research.
    ‘I’ don’t know what it is but ‘I’ would like to find out.
    ‘I’ don’t really care what you think of me, that’s YOUR reality.
    ‘I’ don’t like it when you make fun of me in front of everyone.

    You get the idea.

  2. hey
    yeah I have told her that I dont want to kill my soul any more and that maybe being a research scientist just isnt for me, that I want to do something else (I try not to tell her my ideas of what as she’d just belittle them). and you’re right, I need to have more confidence in myself, I am trying! I stood up to her yesterday and I hope it only gets easier…thanks for your comments it feels really good to have support from the other side of the world!

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