Anonymity

When I started this blog, I decided to blog under a pseudonym so I could be free to talk about whatever I wanted.  I soon learned that this was not really true.  If I really want to stay anonymous, if I really don’t want people to figure out who I am, then I can’t talk about anything that will identify me.  That includes specifics about my research (since we’re one of the few labs working on this question in this system).  So, from the start, anonymity wasn’t nearly as freeing as I thought it would be.

This past weekend, I went to a certain event (which I’m actually not going to blog about here because I am trying to stay secret) where I met a lot of people that I had only known online under my pseudonym.  Prior to leaving, I decided that I would go to this event under my real name in case anyone took a picture of me and posted it.  This made things somewhat awkward.  What usually happened was that I would come up to people who had never seen me before while wearing a name tag with a name they didn’t recognize and motion for them to come very close so I could whisper my secret identity.  Fortunately, people were pretty good natured and only looked at me slightly strangely when I crooked my finger at them.  But, mostly, it worked out okay because everyone just called me by my real name (except for one time, but I think maybe nobody understood what she had said).

And then, on top of that, I recently heard from someone who wanted to write an article about imposter syndrome and asked if I would talk to him.  So, then I had to decide:  if I am quoted do I want my real name in print or should it be a pseudonym or should I just ask to not be directly quoted, or what?  And, after much contemplation and discussion with a friend from lab (who knows about the blog) and Zuska, I realized that the only benefit to having my real identity in the article was seeing my name in print, while there was a whole host of disadvantages to having my real name in the article (including having Advisor find the blog).  So, I decided to remain anonymous.

So, this anonymity thing is a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.  Or rather, I’m getting myself into situations that make it more complicated.  At any rate, I’ve been thinking about being anonymous and whether it’s really worth it, considering I don’t say anything particularly controversial.  The fact is, I remain anonymous because:

1.  I need a place to vent about lab and I don’t want the reputation of my lab to suffer for it.  There are many, many good things about my lab and my advisor which don’t get mentioned here much because I don’t feel like I need to tell someone those things to keep me from exploding.  The thing about venting is, you don’t need to “vent” about good things.

2.  Jobs.  I still don’t know what it is I’m going to be doing when I leave school but when I figure it out, I don’t want my future employer to google my name and get this blog and conclude that I’m a whiner or something.

And, until one or both of those things change, I’ll probably stay anonymous, even if it is complicated.  There are days, though (and during this past weekend, I had several of them), that I get pretty sick of it and wish that things didn’t have to be this way.  That science really was a meritocracy and I would still get a job regardless of what I wrote on my blog.  Or that Advisor wouldn’t freak out if he saw what I’ve written.  Or that people would judge the quality of our lab strictly on our merits and publication record, and the science we do and not by the rantings of a senior graduate student.  But that’s like wishing that everyone in the world could have a Wii (or even just that I could have a Wii).

At Year’s End

Dear 2007,

Well, our relationship has come to an end. I gotta admit, I’ve been thinking like maybe that’s a good thing. Certainly I haven’t gotten everything I wanted out of our time together. Probably the biggest disappointment was that I didn’t get my PhD. I really thought that you would be the one, 2007. The year in which I graduate and finally get to put those two little letters in front of my name–Dr. Whatsit. But I guess it was not to be.

A lot of good things happened in my personal life, though. My brother got married. My sister had a baby (the first grandchild in my family). And, because I had NOT graduated, it was a lot easier for me to be in Iowa for any number of things. I got to go to my sister-in-law’s bridal shower. I was in Iowa the day after my little nephew was born. And it was a lot easier for me to attend his baptism. Which brings me to another great thing, I’m a godmother! I’m still waiting for my fairy powers to show up, though. I think they may have been delayed in the mail due to all of the holiday packages the post office has to deal with (note: must write a letter to the fairy agency telling them to use FedEx in the future).

I read a lot of books this year. More than I thought I would. But it wasn’t a very good year for my favorite authors, two of whom died (Madeleine L’Engle and Robert Jordan) and one who has been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease (Terry Pratchett). Therefore, I’m never going to declare an author one of my favorites again. I don’t want to be responsible for another tragedy.

Professionally, well, I’ve already mentioned I didn’t graduate. And I ran into a huge lab plasmid debacle which caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And I got Result Fish. Still, overall, I have made progress. At least, that’s what I keep saying to myself.

I also started this blog. I have no idea if I should include that in professional or personal. A little of both, I think. I’ve contributed to a couple of Scientiae carnivals and that’s been a lot of fun. I’ve “met” people online through blogging. I started reading ScienceBlogs. All of these have been good things.

So, on the whole, I guess we’ve had a pretty good time together, 2007. Still, I’m glad that our time is over and I’m looking forward to moving on to 2008.

Sincerely,

Mrs Whatsit