When I was young, my grandmother worked as a Kindergarten teacher. She was always busy and always had more plans than she could do in the time she had besides work. So she used to say that she would do all those extra things in the week of school vacation in the fall (we call it ‘Fall-vacation and historically kids were given that week off to help their parents with the harvest). But the amount of things that were allocated to the Fall-vacation was always WAY bigger than would actually fit in those five days of vacation. In order for her to finish all her Fall-vacation projects she would need a year with 52 weeks of vacation (but then, don’t we all?).
For me the summer kind of felt that way this year. Before the summer started I had tons of plans and seriously thought I would gather enough data for 2 papers, write them and have them submitted by the end of the summer. Did I think the summer was going to last for 2 years instead of the usual 3.5 months?!? I don’t really have a lot of excuses, because I actually also got the summer student from heaven this year. Earlier, I severely doubted why anyone would spend their whole summer in a lab instead of go out on vacation, but I have to say that I get it now. My awesome summer student has asked so many questions about science and learned so many things about working in a lab and did all that with such a boatload of enthusiasm, that I can see why one would spend one’s summer like that. My awesome summer student also gathered a lot of data (okay and a lot of non-data due to things not working, but hey that’s science I guess).
So what are the reasons for not meeting my pre-summer expectations? First, my plans were WAY too optimistic. Even if everything worked all at once this would not have been possible. I just wasn’t really thinking when I thought about what could get finished over the summer. Also, the usual (and unusual) things why experiments don’t work all at once: technical difficulties here and there and some unexpected construction that happened very close to our animal facility (grmbl…).
So I guess now I just do what everyone always does when things don’t go as planned: just keep going. There will be another summer next year, with the same awesome summer student who already agreed to come to our lab again! Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.