Wednesday, June 04, 2008

In Which I Demand Attention, NOW

I spent several years in my lab feeling invisible. There would be two or three days in a row when literally all anyone said to me would be 'Are you done with that?' and 'It's on that shelf.' Needless to say, I hated it.

My professional life here is now exactly as I would want. My advisor listens- listens!- when I talk, and tells others to take my suggestions. My lab listens. They even talk to me sometimes. (Kidding! We talk all the time.)

As previously mentioned, I spent a lot of time learning how to be heard. Probably the single most effective things I've learned were to talk quite loudly at work, and to interrupt. All the public speaking I did as a journal editor didn't hurt either, nor the cutting off of respected senior doctor-types. My voice has grown HUUUUUGE!*

Because I'm now heard, because I have a real presence in my work, well, I almost want to whisper, but... I kind of like my lab.** In part it's because they treat me better, and in part it's because I accept nothing less. I expect to get the respect and courtesy I deserve for being an experienced, intelligent, stuffed-with-useful-knowledge colleague. I demand my place by having a firm respect for my own abilities.

I've also learned to believe, completely and firmly, that things are going to happen the way I want.*** This is also hard for me to explain. It's kind of like... a complete refusal to accept circumstances that I find unacceptable. People interrupt me and I stare them down. People propose things that are not okay and I tell them, 'That will not work for me. Find an alternative.'
I have overcome my Southern, female training to be unobtrusive and polite.

The biggest difference from even a year ago is that I finally expect to be heard. I don't think anyone can give you this kind of belief. But it's great.

*Except at home, where Dr. S can never bloody well hear me.
**Not just because I'm about to leave. But it doesn't hurt.
***But not experimental data, which is beyond even my power of belief.