Since my last update, I’ve been working in a new area-meaning new habitats and new work. Now I’m working in Ponderosa pine restoration sites/fuels reduction stands. Even after a couple weeks of work, I’m still not quite used to being around trees instead of sagebrush. And right when I was starting to appreciate sagebrush! But in its own way these sites I’m going to now are also gorgeous. I’ve especially been a fan of how large Ponderosa bark smells like butterscotch! That said, I’m not crazy about the hordes of hornets that are only becoming more abundant. Last week the smoke was getting so bad in the area it looked like we were constantly in the eye of some great storm. No rain, just smoke.
Because I didn’t go to the Chicago training, I went to the Ecological Society of America Conference in Baltimore a couple weeks ago. All in all it was a blast, I loved catching up with old graduate students and professors. I also got to see some exciting new research and learned a lot. But it was also surprisingly stressful as well when I saw that even after getting my undergraduate degree, I still have a long way to go. At one particular moment I had a chill run down my spine when a colleague congratulated me on finding a job in ecology after graduating. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. So while I enjoyed the conference and learned a lot, one of the biggest lessons I got was not on Bayesian modeling but that I’m just at the beginning of my career in ecology. And while the ecology community is extremely welcoming, I will have to work all the harder to contribute significantly to the conservation movement, my end goal. While I love the work I am doing now, stress will always find me again.
One of the best lessons on stress I’ve ever heard was from my old Orgo I professor. After the first exam, among all the pre-med panic attacks, my professor laid out to us that if you look down the road from here-look at everything else you have to overcome-it’s not going to get any easier. And if you want to succeed, you are going to have to learn how to deal with stress. Or get a serious heart condition by the time you’re 25. Whichever comes first.
Oddly, that lesson comforts me. And I am so grateful I work a job where I enjoy what obstacles I am faced with. And when the stress builds up despite my efforts, I consider it a privilege that I live in an area where I can just hop out of the car, go for a hike on an unnamed trail, and get views like this: