I received an e-mail this week from a relative with one of those "inspirational" power point presentations. It was about a cook that had three pans of boiling water. To the first one he added a carrot, which went from hard to limp. To the second he added an egg, which went from fragile to hard. And to the third he added coffee grounds. The presentation asked me whether I faced challenges like the carrot, turning limp; the egg, hardening; or coffee, transforming the challenge into something better. The show ended wishing that I was like coffee.
I guess normal people would just delete it or forward it, either thinking they are like coffee anyway or wishing they were. But somehow it got me thinking... Do I want to, after five years of cultivation, be toasted and ground, then after creating something wonderful at the first challenge, be discarded while others enjoy what I made? Not at all!
It hit me that this is what probably happens to most PhD. The graduate school where I got mine even gives out a bumper sticker with the statement "Phinally Done." I looked at it and said 'No way! I just got started!'. I truly hope my career doesn't end up like coffee... But I guess I'm the one who needs to make it into something different. I haven't come up with a better metaphor for what I would like to be... but I'll keep thinking about it.