One of the hardest things in graduate school was working so hard and never really having much appreciation. I would slave and slave(I mean this term in no disrespect to people who were actually slaves but graduate school can be very physically, emotionally and psychologically distressing) and have creative ideas(or attempt to) and in the end I would beg for the table scraps of appreciation that people would give to me. Eventually, I just stopped caring and wanted to scream "fuck you" at everyone who told me that something I did was good because they had no idea the sweat and blood and tears that went into it(which reminds me, I really want tattoos that say Blood, Sweat, Tears and Toil). My reaction is a little overboard I know. But that is how I felt and how I still feel a little. I only want people to appreciate my work that I deem their appreciation worthy of my acceptance, hahaha. Yeah, a pretty insane way of thinking. But I came from not much. Parents divorced, grew up poor on a farm, almost failed out of high school, almost failed out of college. School was very difficult for me because I have always been an autodidact and I just don't do well on testing at least not compared to the amount of work I put in. People have just always thought I was stupid(which is a problem with our education system but that is not intended for this post).
Now I work at NASA. Of course I know people now that did not know me 15 or 10 or even 5 years ago so it is somewhat silly but lately I have noticed how much appreciation and can I say "awe" I receive for working at NASA. This is not to say I don't appreciate some of it. I am only human and have an ego also. Sometimes however it is beginning to irk me a little. I know I shouldn't complain but let's be honest isn't that what a blog is for? Say I did not have this job at NASA I would probably be appreciated less even though I have accomplished the same amount. This is silly to complain about though. I guess I wish people were more appreciative of the graduate students and post docs in the world that don't work for NASA. That people were not as revered as much for title or position and more for the work that they _actually_ do. Yes, this is directed to the Investigators who have huge egos but have done not much more than write grants since they received their job.
My motto is kind of like "I am only as good as what I did yesterday."
To me a lifetime of effort is worth much much more than a single breakthrough. In general we can always choose to work harder each day or learn more or develop things. I am sure there is a genetic component to this but maybe there is a very slight fraction that has to do with our willingness to sacrifice i.e. something that was a choice. Maybe we do deserve appreciation? To me most Breakthroughs are usually a happenstance of random chance and who is paying attention. A nature or science publication. In the end people may remember your name but your work will have left nothing indelible in the ether. Your work could have been accomplished by someone else. A puzzle requires the finding and positioning of every piece to solve. There is no shortcut. Each piece must be placed. Me, I would rather be the person who places most of the pieces then the one who only places the last piece to reveal the beautiful picture to much fanfare. I don't want my life to be defined by other people's appreciation but more I want it to be defined by the beauty I saw in it. Am I able to become and create the things I think are beautiful? I think truly admiring your own work is the highest form of appreciation but at least for me sometimes I do still need someone else to give me a high five. Despite how grumpy I act.