thanks to all who responded! All solid suggestions and I am now no where near
as stressed as I was about this meeting! I appreciate the input!
Interestingly, I have noticed that even amongst people you consider your
friends, you can sometimes see a little satisfaction almost, if things
aren't going as well as you yourself want them to. It always surprises me
to see it and of course it makes me a little wary of that person's
friendship. But if that happens amongst people you feel fairly
comfortable with.... it just gives you pause when you think about the
whole rest of the community at large.
But the advice I got here is basically, "Screw them. They're not worth
the anxiety and nervous tension." This is true. I'll try to hold on to
that healthy indignation. And secondly, "there is more to life than
whether or not you are going to be presenting at every meeting you go
to." Also true.
A friend commented on a very distinguished speaker who gave a talk
yesterday. He is over 60 and really smart and totally on top of
everything. And during his talk, he was obviously enjoying himself and
seemed to fairly exude serenity. He even quoted Confuscius (spelling?)!
And a Chinese friend sitting next to me said, "This man is a balanced
person. He has inner harmony." This was striking in this man, for its
One thing I have been thinking about is that ego and insecurity in
academic (and for all I know--industrial) science, express themselves in
a bizaare variety of ways. When I first got here there was so much
back-biting and ugly competition amongst members of my own group, that I
never asked a question and I never said a word. In seminars or lab
meetings, I just shut up. I figured everything I said would get torn down
anyway and I just wanted to be left alone. Now this is totally out of
character for me, because I used to always ask questions in graduate
school and always felt like I got alot more out of everything when I did.
In the last half year, I have returned to that and am much happier about
that small little thing. And yet, the ego-deficiencies and insecurities in
other people that I was responding to--they ARE still there and DO make
themselves known to me and result in making me self-conscious.
And so while I get annoyed with the people whom I blame for this
intimidation---people who are behaving badly out of their OWN
insecurity---I nevertheless suffer from the same kind of insecurity they
are. Here I am worrying about people noticing my lack of productivity and
not knowing how to respond to rude negativity. If I got desperate enough,
would I lash out the same way? I am sure I would. (No inner harmony
here!) I wonder if the way to improve science is to find the cure for low
I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts on this. And thanks again!