It gets easier....

Apr 23 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

I just caught myself about to do what has been bothering the shit out of me for the past couple of years. Our friend Hermitage is having some trouble with a paper at the moment. When I read her post, my knee-jerk reaction was to say "I know it sucks now, but it gets easier", but when has that ever made anybody feel any better? I have been hearing that non-stop for a couple of years, whether the context is having a new baby, grant writing, starting a lab, teaching, dealing with new administration, whatever. It's an easy thing to say, but just as easy a cop out for giving real advice. If I cared about what this will feel like in 3 years, I would ask you about that but I'm getting kicked in the stones right now. If it didn't get easier, no one in their right mind would actually do this shit (including having kids).

I'm guilty of saying this too, but I vow right here that I will resist the urge to relay this useless bit of advice from now on.

10 responses so far

  • Odyssey says:

    Ummmm, what if I were to tell you many (not all) of these things don't get easier? You just get better at a) dealing with it, b) covering your stones at the right moments, and c) saying no.

  • Venkat says:

    When I first came to VeryColdPlace, I was like "its already damn cold, what with the WINDCHILL?!!"A fellow student at the time told me "don't worry, you'll get used to it"He's getting a kick in the arse when I see him again.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Odyssey, getting used to the demands is part of things getting easier because it's overwhelming at first. Part of it is just experience, but repetition with a lot of this stuff means you can anticipate problems as well.Venkat, not everyone gets used to different temperature conditions from what they are used to and when it's -40 out (yes, without exaggerating I've seen that) there is no such thing as being "used" to it.

  • Ms.PhD says:

    Actually, I tend to agree with Odyssey. Most of the things that really upset me are the ones that don't get easier; they only continue or get worse. It would be nice to have people tell me "it gets easier" rather than the other meaningless drivel I've heard like, "oh don't worry you're being too negative, I'm SURE you'll get a job" or "you'll find something eventually."Right now I just want things to get easier. I think it's a nice sentiment. It implies that we can learn and improve and that things are within our control. It's a far cry from being told "I don't know, it's a total crapshoot, nobody knows, you're probably screwed, but still I wish you good luck."

  • Dr.Girlfriend says:

    I thought undergraduate biology was hard. However, I am sure it would be a breeze now! The point is that the more we advance, the more that is expected of us. If you hated Biology 101, the chances are you will not enjoy upper level biology classes. I happened to enjoy these classes, but they were never easy. I would never tell a freshman who hated biology "it gets easier". Three years in, and biology is a lot harder. The same is true of most anything else. If you do not enjoy the struggle it is false hope to think it will get easier - it won't. The challenges will just keep increasing and you will be expected to keep pace.Few things worth doing are easy, but if it is not a labor of love the best advice is GET OUT NOW.

  • Micro Dr. O says:

    Agreed with Odyssey - I think the best advice I've gotten is that it doesn't get easier, but you'll get better at it. There's something comforting in hearing that others have been there and made it through. And I think that even the "it'll get easier" sentiment can be helpful, especially when it's accompanied by "I've been there and made it through, and you will too". Sometimes being reminded that sucky doesn't last forever is a very good and important thing.

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde says:

    I wanted to slay the people who consoled my new-baby frustrations with "It'll get easier." Yeah, I figured he wouldn't still be sucking my nipples sore every 1.5 hrs through the night at age 15, but the trouble was *right now*.Of course, now that he's 8 months, it *is* much easier, but that doesn't mean I forgive those folks.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    I'm still failing to see the distinction whereby getting better at something isn't related to it getting easier. Sure, the task itself doesn't change, but it is still easier for one to perform. Or am I missing something?My point is that, to me at least, hearing that something will get easier as long as I keep banging my head against the wall is not particularly comforting at the time of banging. Actual helpful advice, like "this is a strategy I use when I run into this because I've had to learn how to do this more efficiently" is much better to hear.

  • Dr.Girlfriend says:

    "I'm still failing to see the distinction whereby getting better at something isn't related to it getting easier"Because in most cases getting better at something simply means you are required doing more of it. As a PI you might find writing one manuscript easier now, but as a PI you are not expected to write just one manuscript anymore.There are examples were we can reach a level of competence and the task remains the same in terms of base difficulty and time allowed to be spent on in. Driving a car for example.Most career related tasks having increasing difficulty or decreasing time allowances attached to them.Dr.Jekyll and Hyde-I was not causing my mother sore nipples when I was 15yr, However, I was running off and sneaking into nightclubs and worrying my poor mother sick. I do not believe parenting gets easier - it just presents new challenges.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Because in most cases getting better at something simply means you are required doing more of it. As a PI you might find writing one manuscript easier now, but as a PI you are not expected to write just one manuscript anymore.Yes, but writing is still easier. Just because one has to do more of it doesn't mean that it is as difficult as it once was. If I struggled with writing papers now like I did as a grad student, I wouldn't be here. I think you're confusing the category (e.g. "writing") with the task. The category includes much more as you progress, but the task gets easier, or else you would never survive. Parenting OTOH, just constantly changes into new challenges like a diabolical whack-a-mole game.

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