From Jerk to Justice League: How to be a leader, not a whiner? (Grad School Style)
November 13, 2012 7:08 AM Subscribe
From Jerk to Justice League: How to be a leader, not a whiner?
posted by celare to human relations (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Last night, the boyfriend mentioned that he's always felt like his father went through life (and goes through life) looking for a fight. His father is generally a good guy, but he doesn't appear to be the most adaptable snowflake I've met on life's bumpy road. I'd describe it as being cranky about life at times. No big deal. Who isn't cranky sometimes?
But then boyfriend said he feels the same way.
He feels like the world is out to get him and he's spoiling for a fight. He takes slights and inconveniences personally, and he doesn't mask it when he's bothered. My opinion: he appears rude when he does it, and maybe overly aggressive. I think (and he agrees) that he doesn't roll with life's small punches because he doesn't know what to do about the central problem in his life right now.
He's a grad student in science and incredibly stressed by the neverending push to do more, faster, push further out of his comfort zone, and generally keep up with the testosterone-filled, family-comes-last, political jockeying in his lab. When he was talking about this, he mentioned that he feels alone in his desperation--why doesn't anybody else push back against the unhealthy culture? Is he the only one who feels he deserves better than this? And when he does push back, why doesn't anyone respect him for it?
I argued that lots of people push back when they find themselves faced with situations like his, but they don't fight alone, and they don't transfer their frustration to petty things. They fight back socially. They join movements or form partnerships. They shine a light on the problem in a way that doesn't alienate others and instead creates a rallying point.
He's interested by that, but I'm not sure he's sold on the idea of lending his anger and energy toward something bigger than himself. And more than that, he doesn't know how. I've never had that kind of chip on my shoulder, and I'm not sure what to tell him.
The question(s), from general to specific:
Big picture, have you ever taken this kind of anger against personal injustice and turned it into something bigger? Did you lend your support to a cause? What kind of thought process took you from feeling wronged to finding a constructive focus?
Small picture, do you know of any groups that rally around grad student work-life issues? Who can he join?
BF reads articles about work-life balance and laments that it's viewed as women-only issue. There's a sadly sizable group of people who say "suck it up, or quit science" in response to his concerns. Or they have the attitude of "You should live to work, and want to live to work. What's wrong with you?"
I believe that it's possible to for people in general, and him specifically to find a balanced life in which he can have the profession of scientist. But I'm short on examples of scientists who exhibit a life-balance that he'd find worth looking forward to--a life that includes family and time that isn't filled with work-obsession. Feel free to throw in encouraging words on that matter if you have them.