7 months on the job

I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I always end up in the wrong place in life. Once again I feel like my job’s not suited for me. Since grad, I’ve just not felt like I fit anywhere :( Perhaps I’m too idealistic, or too picky, or simply just not trying hard enough.

1.5 years in my first job, 6 months (or slightly less) in a PhD course before dropping out, and now 7 months into my ‘new’ job… I already feel like giving up.

At 26, I have not figured out my path in life; or found my place in this world. It seems like everyone can well survive without me.

In my current job, I was told that I’d be working with data. Even if not quantitative, qualitative. I had no experience in the latter (still don’t), but I said I’d try. I thought I’d have a role similar to my first job, but just more qualitative in nature; still dealing with large amounts of data, cleaning data, analysing data. Plus, my job title had the words “Analytics” and “Programming” in it. Sounds so”data-ish” right?!

But how wrong I was.

I ended up in a communications department. Due to historical reasons, the (newly formed) team I’m currently in was placed under this dept. Which is really quite ridiculous considering that we are supposedly doing behavioural insights (BI) work – something I learnt only after I landed the job. Somehow this point wasn’t brought up in the interview.

I was fine for say, the first 3 months? Because everything felt quite similar to schooling days in terms of the lit review we had to do to gather BI to help improve programming (yes, I finally got what the ‘programming’ referred to; nothing about IT). So I was like “oh cool, it’s diff from what I expected, but at least I get to use my school knowledge and skills more!”; since BI also has some elements of psychology (e.g. understanding people’s behaviour to nudge them toward certain actions).

But soon enough things started to get fluffy. Research was not as controlled as in the school environment. There was no library so the only articles we had access to were the free ones on google scholar. Many of our recommendations to improve programs were based off our own experiences/ from the top of our minds with tenuous links to literature; even though my direct supervisor emphasizes the need for our ideas to be “evidence-based”. So I’m not actually comfortable with the amount of fluff our work entails -.-

Recently, I feel that my supervisor is biased against me too haha. Like many new projects are being passed on to my colleague instead of me (some of which I feel that I can do it, and I’m a more suited candidate given my background?!). I understand that my colleague is generally a well-liked person, but still, as a supervisor can’t you put in some effort to show impartiality? Cos the biased treatment is really getting quite obvious. But I guess he is human after all.

I could rant so much, but given this public platform it might not be safe to say more :P

Anyway I’m finally meeting my supervisor one-on-one this week. He actually requested this to the whole team; that we take turns to meet him. Because appraisal’s coming up so he wanted to check in on our work/progress etc. Just as well, I could use this to clarify some stuff and voice my thoughts haha. Especially more now because there’s prolly gonna be a slight change in direction for our team and after he spoke to us about it, I don’t see where I can contribute; and even if I do, it will not be what I set out to do in this job, which was data work. So… we’ll see how it goes.

.

Hello October. A little late though.

To be honest, life has not been very good. I thought this was what I wanted, but it doesn’t seem to be that way. Well, the problem is what do I even want? I am such an aimless, clueless soul :( And nobody likes people like that. Even I don’t.

I’ve felt quite unlike my usual self since everything started mid-August, especially in the first week. That week, I really felt like I was close to a mental breakdown or sinking into depression. It’s really not an exaggeration when I say I didn’t feel like eating, I didn’t feel like meeting or talking to anyone, I didn’t want to crossfit, I just wanted to lay in bed and sleep all day. Jokes that were funny to me were not funny anymore. It was so hard to even fake a smile but I tried anyway. Every little thing made me cry. I cried every day. I just felt like disappearing.

Well, things are slightly better now. I still feel like crying occasionally. It’s still stressful as hell, but I’ve learnt to take things easier. I’ve learnt to “heck care” whatever I can. But as I tell anyone who asks me to take a chill pill, it’s not that easy. Believe me I am trying, but even doing the bare minimum requires a hell lot of effort (that feels beyond me at times).

Everyone around me seems to be coping well in classes. But perhaps they are struggling too I don’t know. Even so, at least they are able to show their competency in class, in front of the profs. But not me :( I try sometimes but it’s hard. For some courses, I don’t even understand the material… I don’t know how people get it.

This is very very very different from the school and work life that I’ve known. I am really being pushed to my limits, and beyond. They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone, but I’m not sure if that’s my case now. I don’t exactly have a life.

Many questions swim around in my head every day – why I took this up, whether I’ll stay, whether it’s worth it, whether it’s right for me, whether I really want it and why, what do I want in life. These are actually – believe it or not – hard questions for me. I struggle to find answers. Yet they are really important; how I answer these questions will lead me to a decision, and some consequences attached to it. But either way, I’m not sure I can handle the consequences. It’s like a war in my head every day :(

School

It’s about 2 weeks till the start of school. But since about 2 weeks ago, I’ve already been making several trips down to SMU for various reasons. I’ve also started to receive “important” school-related mail from the faculty, which just adds to the reality that school is *really* starting now.

The frequent trips to school and the emails are – to be honest – stressing me out a lot. I know I’ve been wanting to go back to school for the longest time. But now that it’s happening, I sometimes doubt if it is the right choice? Perhaps it’s the program I’m in; it’s a rather unfamiliar field to me though it bears links to some areas of psychology (which I took as an undergrad).

I guess it’s also the level of qualification I would be graduating with. It’s not just Masters, but a PhD. In other words, it’s a research program. I am expected to be an academic or at the very least an independent researcher with an inquisitive mind, or a wealth of knowledge on a particular specialty area. And the program is training you for that right from the very start; so I feel like I am expected to already have a research interest that I want to pursue in the upcoming 4 years. One of the first questions that everyone – faculty members and students – asks is “What is your research interest?”.

The biggest problem here is, I really suck at critical thinking and asking questions; and I don’t feel like someone who can really be super passionate about something and be curious enough to keep finding out more. I feel like I’m more of someone who is just easily interested in… everything; whatever is new to me, I take an interest. How long that interest would last, or whether it would turn into something I’m passionate about is really questionable. This “trait” of mine (or whatever it should be called) is really not beneficial at all to this PhD journey that I will be embarking on; especially when I’m doing the program in an area that is not particularly familiar to me. How do I find an area of interest for research when I’m such a greenhorn and don’t exactly have the most curious mind (that researchers should have) around?

Of course with all these stress, I have doubted my acceptance into the program. Actually, even before all these; the moment I received my news of acceptance, I doubted. What the hell right haha, but seriously.

Some background on why I applied – It’s simple really; not any fanciful story about how I was soooo passionate about the field. I was just.. interested. My friend was the one who introduced this program to me, so I read up a bit and thought it sounded good, then went for it.

Anyway, my friend was also planning to apply for it for admission in the same academic year. Honestly, she had a much much better chance of getting accepted into the program. Her uni grades were top notch, and she graduated with her thesis in a very similar area to this program. She then continued working as an RA after graduation for her thesis supervisor, who knew profs in the faculty of this program and has name dropped her. Therefore, she has much experience and knowledge in this field, and at least one pretty strong recommendation! (We need 3 recommendation letters for this program application)

I on the other hand, had not as good grades (though still pretty decent), a thesis in a totally unrelated area and worked in an unrelated job. Heck, I didn’t even have a clear research interest (actually not even now)! My interview skills are like sh*t too (there are 2-3 interviews to get through. I had 2). Furthermore, in our personal statement (part of the application too), we also had to talk about our research interest a little cos we had to indicate which profs we may wanna work with and why; I just smoked my way through with a really short para (while my friend probably wrote a pretty decent idea of what she wanted cos of her experience in the field).

Oh, and the best part? My friend (one year my junior) and I graduated from the SAME MAJOR, SAME SCHOOL. What are the odds of a Singapore PhD program accepting TWO Singaporean students with such similar backgrounds?! (Just some clarification here – though same major, Psychology, we did our thesis in different areas of the subject. Hers is the one that is very closely tied to the PhD program subject).

So… how on earth did I even get accepted I really don’t know.  I kept wondering/telling myself that maybe it’s because they had lesser applicants this year… Or they made a mistake haha. Perhaps I was a “replacement” for someone who rejected the offer; who knows.

But nowadays, to make myself feel a bit better, I’m try to let go and let God. I tell myself that He has a plan for me – otherwise how could I have got in, against all odds (seemingly so to me)?? And perhaps He knew it was gonna be hard for me so he put a friend in the program with me too.. I guess I just have to really trust that He will help me through. I’m trying but it’s hard :( The stress and anxiety can really get to me, and all those thoughts that I’m just not good enough (e.g. ref above para).

(Ok I can’t really remember my main point of writing this post, or if I got out everything I wanted to say cos I had to go out in between and continue like hours later >< But I guess it’s more or less there; my current thoughts about going back to school… sigh)

11 more months in 2016

It’s the end of Jan. Time flies; felt like just not too long ago we were all happy new year, looking back on 2015, and setting new year resolutions.

I have shared with one or two people, right from the beginning of this year (i.e. 1 Jan), that I was not looking forward to this new year at all. I think it’s safe to say that it is the first time in my life that I did not look forward to a new year :(

New years have always been exciting for me. I love the idea of new beginnings and starting over. I love the idea of having new opportunities and chances to change or do something new. Every new year just felt so… refreshing.

But this year, I really did not want 2016 to arrive. I foresee it to be a year of uncertainties; and I hate uncertainties. I thought it won’t be a good year at all, and how my Jan went has supported that statement – Jan has not been really great at all for me.

So much has happened in this first month. There have been family/relationship drama towards the end of Jan. And before that, my best workout partner left for France in the beginning of the month, so one less friend to hang out with for half of 2016 :( Work’s been busy, and I was stressing out over postgrad app.

Why I feel like the rest of 2016 will not be great at all

(WARNING: long, rambly, and incoherent post ahead)

(more…)