this story might be long, for me, has last long enough, enough!
age 14, I joined technical high school on Electronics. I think I was 15 when we were given a practical assignment in the Digital Electronics course. The open path to make it was chosen by all my colleagues, but I knew how do it using that component. I thought I could use another component. The professor said it was feasible but didn’t know how. Logically, as everything in Electronics, it would work but it did not. I watched all my colleagues getting that shit done, except me and the lazy ones. I don’t remember the teacher judging me or discouraging my “different way”. I think this was the key. He couldn’t understand why it was not working either. I finally found a pin priority function that was screwing things up. I remember I was so happy finding it out, finding something by myself, digging in and finding it out. I was not conscious at the time, but I understood that this was my jam.
Then, I went to study Electrical Engineering. Actually, in Brazil, there is a major admission exam for joining public universities. Public universities in Brazil are the ones that hold quality, research, and innovation. The private ones, with few exceptions, are not worth mentioning. When you register, you were given three options 1,1a,2. My choices were mechatronics, electrical eng, and industrial eng. I didn’t get a good mark to join mechatronics, and I was approved for industrial eng. man, I thought I went bad, third option. Actually, a year later, thinking on reapplying for the exam and already studying industrial engineering (which I hated), I discovered that actually industrial was my second option and not third. Then, I was informed there was something called “internal mobility”, which allowed students to transfer from one faculty to another. Electrical engineering had had several spots for internal mobility in the past semesters, so I decided to request a spot as soon as possible: after the 4th semester. By the 4th semester, I was already known for my political stands. There was never a single spot for internal mobility since my interest came out, all vacant spots were designated for external mobility (mainly students coming from private schools). I forgot the industrial engineering curriculum and I took all the electrical engineering classes, where I was segregated for being registered in an *inferior* engineering faculty (*not real engineering*), even if I took all the classes they took. A year prior to finish the requirements for graduation, I took the admission exam again, with no preparation. My chances were far from high: I hadn’t studied portuguese and chemistry for 4 years, and hadn’t had solid studies on biology, geography, history, etc since primary school (technical high school didn’t have those disciplines). I was approved, and they were obliged to take me. Of course, they made me do a lot of extra courses but I finally graduated with 4200 hours instead of 3500 like my colleagues.
Then, time for the masters. I was approved with scholarship for two programs I applied for, both in mechanical engineering, one in first place and the other in second. It was really hard to choose one, really. I decided to go for the one with less funding, less support, and a way less glitter than the other one, for a single reason: I could do what the hell I had in my fucking mind, I could have my own research questions instead of running research about the details of the detail of an industrial partner piece of technology. I took three instead of two years to finish as a butthole wouldn’t lend me the equipment to run my experimental studies and I didn’t want to deliver something theoretical. I finally delivered the thesis and the committee got super mad at me for two reasons: first, it was too long (I was stupid enough to have ~400 pages long dissertation) and I had really political acknowledgments (which I don’t regret at all). My defense took over 4 hours, and finished with a fight between electrical versus mechanical engineering professors. At some point, I was completely ignored while they were using the contribution of my thesis as subject for ego fighting. I was approved but had to reduce the text to 80-100 pages, which I sort of did in 120 pages total. Time to get that shit signed after all. The committee president, the guy I decided not to work with when I chose the master’s program, had to approve the final version. After rejecting version after version for four months, he clearly stated what the real problem was. He would flip the pages, reaching the acknowledgments, and then choose a random page and complain about something, saying “change it”. Again, all my colleagues were done at this point, except me. One of the professor from the committee said, your acknowledgments are in your way, I don’t know what else. I remember one day, after another batch printing of copies and another version reproved, I sat down in the side walk in front of the professor’s university building crying as a kid, short of breath, and not able to coordinate my thoughts. A professor that I had work with was taking his car out of the parking lot, saw me, and said, “c’mon Carol, what’s going on?” I showed the print outs. He said: “go home and take your time, you can think properly now”. As I couldn’t make sense of life, I follow his directions and went home. cried like hell and once more thought on leaving academia forever. I threatened my advisor saying I would give up on the title, and if he wanted it, he should at last do something. After yelling at him at his fancy administration office, he finally reviewed my text for the first time, and ask revisions, after which the committee president would approve. I did and finally got it signed.
I won’t even tell how much I’ve dropped to go to Canada for the PhD. After 4 years and 2 journal papers, I found another rock on my shoes. No matter if political, IP, technical, or ego related issue this person have with me (as I can’t prove), probably with my advisor, I found myself once more in the same situation. This time is even more ridiculous as I was way more dedicated with my work and no political stands were clear to the academic public. Besides that, giving my personal biomechanical issue, my work was directed to it and I was not able to differentiate work from life. When it happened, I felt something was taken from me, and this was my life. Fortunately, before any major harm, I realized my work is not my life. The reminder was given by my mom and by the risk that my biomechanical complications come from a rheumatic disease that is progressively making me loose my range of motion. Thinking on not being able to move and dance reduce my academia frustration to hell, where tell should live and die. I’m sure something good is reserved to me, and I’m ready. I’ve had enough, long enough.
“don’t say the song is lost” (Raul Seixas)
“don’t think that your brain stands it if you stop”(Raul Seixas)