Charles Darwin's health, so-called "productivity" and ambition

Oct 06 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

This is so fascinating: Charles Darwin's Health

I came across it from a Tenure She Wrote post linked to by sweetscience here on Scientopia.

Charles Darwin's lifelong intermittent symptoms are SO similar to some of the crap that I deal with (and that I have heard personally from many other scientists at many career levels)--crazy heart irregularity stuff, exhaustion and stomach problems brought on by the adrenergic fight or flight response; and what feels like deregulated fight or flight response happening a lot in our professional situations, whether it's from teaching, deadline stress, social anxiety about big meetings or talks, uncertainty stress about funding situations, betrayal by people we thought we could or should be able to trust, everything. And also hitting some of us in our personal situations, too, the relentless gut punches from all the terrible, desperate stuff happening beyond our control to us, and to/about the people and things we care about.

Then I found this one about the Ghostbusters remake and being in all-women spaces, and I loved it so much. I saw the movie a few weeks ago and I was just about crying with how awesome it was.

All these things I keep thinking about as I ponder my tendency to say I'm not ambitious... when really it's that I hate the competitive bullshit. I am ambitious, actually. I do want to be doing great things and getting recognized for them. I want to be HHMI, I want to get my work published in journals that lots of people will read. I just really, REALLY don't feel like I want to be spending all the extra energy required to push for them against the skepti-tide, feeling exhausted by the effort to get what I know is meticulously good work on innovative stuff through reviewers, and by the dudebro-ness that gets them for equivalent accomplishments just because it's louder and seen first. Like this crap: Book excerpt from an essay on science and narcissism

Charles Darwin: a giant in science, no modern respectable scientist would argue about the importance of his contributions, figured out one of the fundamental principles of nature. All while feeling like absolute crap half the time, experiencing personal tragedy, and not being able to be "fully productive". He stressed out about it constantly, always felt like he should be working more, but only was able to keep himself going intellectually and professionally by taking time out to take care of himself and manage his mental health and physical condition. We (the collective of scientists) need to let ourselves and each other do this, too.

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