My Job Is Like Getting An Allergy Shot

When I was a child, I had really bad allergies. Allergies that were so bad, they induced me to wheeze & have asthma attacks. And unfortunately, I wasn’t allergic to things I could avoid; I was allergic to dust, weeds, grass & pollen. My doctors decided the best treatment for my allergies & asthma were weekly allergy shots. I remember my first shot, I was 5 or 6 years old, and as most children are, terrified of needles & shots. I screamed bloody murder at my first injection...and then in the car my mother tore my behind up for acting such a fool. And so, I had to learn how to tolerate those shots. And as the years went on, it got easier and easier. And I progressed from weekly shots, to every 2 weeks, to finally, monthly injections. And then, at 16 or 17 years old, my doctor pronounced me allergy-free. I’m 29 now, and each year while I see people suffer when the pollen count increases, I’m totally fine.

As a child, I suffered through those shots so that now, I can enjoy life without allergies or hay fever or even worse, asthma attacks. At 6 years old, I wouldn’t have understood how those shots would benefit my future self, and how that momentary pain was more than worth the future advantages of an allergy-free life.

I thought of that story this morning, after leaving a meeting where I felt beat down & scolded. I’ve spoken before of the stress & anger I feel at this job, and my strong desire to be free from it. Yet I can’t deny that while difficult, this job has taught me a great deal. Not just about my industry & field, but about myself. Its given me skills that I use not only professionally, but personally as well. It has developed me into a better scientist, analytical thinker, and person.

But it hurt like hell. Just like those allergy shots I had a child.

Someone I follow on Twitter tweeted about how change is uncomfortable & we must get out of our comfort zones to grow & learn. I’ve believed that but more in an abstract way. But then it occurred to me - this job, this position that I hate, that challenges me & stresses me out & makes me cry occasionally in the lab - THIS is the uncomfortable position that we talk about. I’m way out of my comfort zone & that’s why this job is so hard for me. It's not that I’m not smart enough, or can’t comprehend, or can’t articulate my thoughts. It's just a completely different situation for me. It's an uncomfortable situation - I’m the new girl, in a new industry, in a new company, with new responsibilities & pressures. Virtually nothing about this situation was comfy or familiar to me, and that’s why its been such a challenge.

But this uncomfy position has helped me learn & grow. And see that I’m capable of more than that I thought. That I’m smarter than I thought. That I’m stronger than I thought. And that when I need to, I can go to the mattresses & make it happen.

But damn it hurt to get here.

Was it worth it? I hope so.