It takes passion

Yesterday I had an 11h nonstop experiment day, with barely 15 minutes to eat. By the time I got home, my feet were killing me. My best friend, C, spent the night at the lab on Friday, because she had a time point at 3am and it was easier (and safer considering how tired the poor thing was) to stay than to drive back to the lab. Another good friend, V, has been in the lab 7 days a week for the past few weeks, doing stress assays. He lives closer to his lab, so at least he got to go home in between time points.

Our research is very different, ranging from immunology (me) to virology (C) and aging (V) but there's a main thing we have in common and that is our time at the lab is not really our own: we depend on other living things and I am not talking about colleagues. Having to work with animals or even cells means that sometimes, even if you do your best to plan ahead you might end up working on a weekend or as it happened to me, on New Year's Eve.

Today, coming into the lab I was talking with C and I said: "well, if my experiment worked, it was all worth it" which made us both chuckle as this basically applies to ALL the experiments we have ever done. Then we sighed tiredly and started our days (yes, I'm very lucky that my best friend works at the same institute, I've known her since our undergrad studies in Colombia) both hoping all we did in prior days was worth it. They had been tiring days, which are sometimes different from the hard days we have previously discussed. As you get closer to the end of the line, these tiring days become sort of a constant.
How do you keep pushing forward? takes passion, drive, determination and a lot of self pep talk. Having someone to be tired with helps off course, but sometimes we are alone at the lab. You might tell me that any big endeavor takes passion and I will agree; but there are different types of passion and not any type will do to push you to stay awake and efficient at 3am in the morning.

I've said this to all my summer students and to new people coming into the lab. Be sure you really love doing this, because you are going to be doing it at the oddest hours and most people might not get why on earth you choose this path. Make sure you know how to push yourself forward when you had to skip lunch and getting some sleep seems highly unlikely. Find exactly what you love about it and keep it at heart, when you are working an 80h week that might or might not give you that result you need to finally graduate.

Everyone I know who works (well) in science are very passionate about something else, and this is probably our outlet, our source of energy if you will, to jump back in the rhythm. And this for me is as important as being passionate about your lab work. 
So tell me about your passions, other than science that is ;)

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