If you never try, you’ll never know

Following our official PhD meeting last week, I have been thinking on how to progress with my work. After many thoughts, and much pain in my heart, I think it’s best for everyone involved to not continue my work in this setting. After all, I think we can all agree that the way we have been working until this point, will not last for another 3 years’.

These were the words I wrote to my supervisors, and once pushed on that send button, we reached a point of no return. The decision was made, and I couldn’t go back. I think this was the first time in my life I made such a definite and all changing decision in my life. I was scared, unsure, felt defeated, thrilled and excited at the same time. But here I am, still alive and (hopefully) heading towards living my best life.

So recently I have dropped my PhD position not because I don’t think I could do this, or because it’s not valuable for my career, or I think it’s cool to be a dropout. But because I want to live my life to the fullest potential possible, and I wasn’t doing just that anymore within this team and position. So that’s the point where you got to make changes and most likely, difficult decisions.

The taboo & advice from others

The difficulty -or taboo – is not in quitting a PhD, but for me it was rather to not pursue it anymore in a culture where this degree is the mainstream and considered ‘your starting point’ for your career. I have heard many of these tips; ‘it will open doors for you in your future career’, ‘it’s your driver’s license in this career’, ‘first get your PhD, then continue anything else’. And these words have kept me in the game for a long time, and kept me doubting whether to continue or not until the final moment. These words were said by people I trusted and considered experienced experts. I surely valued their advice. But, I also needed to be aware that it came from a group of people, with to a certain extent, similar career pathways. Rather than people who might not have the exact career or walked the path that I have in mind for my life. Would I ask my boyfriend about pursuing a PhD, and he would give me a very different answer from a very different perspective. And neither of them is right or wrong, they are different. It is at that point that I tried to listen to my own voice. Who am I and what do I want?

Know thyself

And that’s where we get started; because we’re all unique people, with our unique skills, qualities, ideas and ways of being. So I try to be my unique self, and find my unique path in life and in my career. Even at times when I have no idea what I am doing or where my career is heading, and life is like a hell of a ride –  and surely there is going to be lots of ups and downs after such decisions, but it’s all part of the process. And part of life. Because living isn’t for those who don’t dare to ever fall or fail – cause failing is an integral part of life and growth itself. So don’t compare yourself to others, listen to your own heart. Go follow your own ideas and create your own path, and shine your light in this world!

For my next adventure, I am still exploring a range of jobs which greatly fit with who I am and what I am looking for in my job. Maybe I will start something of my own, although I have no idea yet how that’s supposed to look like. I think there is amazing potential in bringing the technical/data science world into the health and life sciences domain, and for that we need people connecting both fields, connecting people organizations and connecting knowledge and information. And that’s what I am here to do. Connecting to advance human health!

by Nadine Rouleaux

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