I couple nights ago, I found myself in a familiar situation. It was 4:12 am, I still had a ton of work to left to do, but only a couple hours until I had to wake up for class. I had problem sets and lab reports that needed completing, tests and quizzes to study for, reading I had fallen behind on, and I hadn’t been to lab in days…
Suddenly, I felt like a terrible student and a bad scientist. Don’t get me wrong. Despite occasional online shoe-shopping breaks during problem sets, and catching up on Gossip Girl between writing sections of a lab report, I do all my work. I go to all my classes. I study for all my exams. Yet I get mediocre grades (and no, I don’t mean the “Asian F” aka the A-), I mean hovering at or right below the mean. I often feel less than motivated to go into my research lab and do the “real research” that “real scientists” are doing. The “real research” that chances are, I’ll be doing in 5 – 10 years. This left me wondering “What am I doing wrong? I know what I want, but why can’t I want it enough to it right and do it well?”
What I want is to make something of myself. Maybe not in the way that parents tell their children, “You can do anything if you try hard!” I’m a bit of a cynic. I don’t feel some greater connection to all of humanity, and I don’t believe it’s my job to save anyone. But at the same time, I’m not a nihilist. If nothing else, I want to serve reason and knowledge. To aid in the scientific discovery of the world that exists around us.
In short, I want to be a good student and a good scientist. With this question, I did the obvious thing and I asked Google “what makes a good scientist?” Some of the results were: honesty, intuition, logic, curiosity, intelligence, open-mindedness, imagination, math skills, patience, and luck. I agree that these are all qualities that I have found in people I know and consider to be good scientists (some of my peers, advisors, professors, etc.) but I can’t help feeling that they have something more. Some sort of simple, but life-changing secret that if I could only learn….