I really feel like I am something out of a gossip magazine recently. My lab situation has never been private--heck, I blog about it on the internet--but I always assumed there was some level of privacy/anonymity about the whole thing. Recent events have served to remind me that this is not the case.
Take, for instance, the conversation I just had in the elevator. I ran into a professor who taught one of my classes my first year of grad school, and he also has a lab on the same floor as Dr. B. I haven't talked to him since I finished his class, just because I didn't run into him.
However, he serves on the MSTP steering committee, and as such, heard about my issue when G brought it up. Now, I was told basically that the steering committee meeting ended up with general support for me staying in the PhD somehow. That was all I knew.
Apparently, details of my project were discussed at this meeting (and, likely, personal opinions about my ability to be a successful graduate student). I didn't know the type of detail until this elevator conversation. Apparently, there had been debates as to specific lab mentors that would be an option, whether the project could be finished, etc.
I had assumed that I wasn't much more than a passing conversation. I guess not.
I'm not too upset about this--ultimately, the committee did decide I was worth keeping. Whether that was for my benefit or theirs is less clear. But it's strange to have so many people on campus be involved in my business.
I'm trying hard not to be paranoid now every time I see someone that likely knows the gory details of my situation. Believe it or not, it wasn't something I talked about much outside of this blog and at home.
Oh well. What's done is done at this point. I'm not really regretting my decision. It's more of a general feeling of discomfort about the whole thing. I'm now "that grad student that is on her third project because her other two labs bombed." So far, people have made it more about the labs crapping out than about my inherent abilities/shortcomings. But if this new project takes too long, I don't think much time would pass before the rumblings became more about me than my situation.
I know I shouldn't really care too much what anyone else thinks. Trouble is, you never want to burn academic bridges because you can never be sure where or when you might run into people again.
And, if you know me, I am all about minimizing drama. Sometimes you can't get rid of all of the crap going on around you, but I at least work hard to focus on what is productive and not what is just there to make me crazy. Over the last few years, I've even taken to not discussing any drama in my life that involves other people's personal issues. I'm trying not to propagate things. It doesn't always work, but at least I try. I just find another way to vent.
I guess I'm going to have to get used to being a topic of discussion (and not in the good "she got a paper accepted to Science/Cell/Nature" type of way). I guess I just need to prove that I am not the issue.