I don’t think this relationship is working anymore. I’m truly sorry it’s taken me so long to finally admit it, but I think you and I both knew this was coming.
I really enjoyed our time together. You guided me through some hard times in my life and have always supported me. You helped get me into college, then guided me through to graduation. I appreciated our lab time in particular, even though you could be stubborn and at times even infuriating, but you always came through for me in the end. I will always cherish those lab reports. You’ve been an integral part of my identity ever since I was a little kid, but I think it’s time for me to strike out on my own.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how distant I have become in the last year. I knew I should have been studying and applying for grad schools, but I was distracted by something else. You’ve seen the signs before. In high school I always spent more time on art homework. I justified it by claiming that art was so much more time-consuming than solving chemistry problems, but everyone knew I didn’t really need to put that much detail into my artwork to get a high grade. I did it because I liked it. I never read extra chapters in an anatomy textbook just because I liked it. But, I made a re-commitment to you in college and I focused all of my academic efforts on you and only you.
When I graduated though, you started to change. All I wanted was to play around in a lab for a bit until I was ready to move on to grad school, but with the collapsing economy you started acting like a Bachelor’s degree wasn’t good enough for you anymore. If I wanted to even set foot in a lab you required a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. You became way too high maintenance for me. I took a job in an office that focused on research hoping it would keep the flame going until I was able to meet your standards, but without the thrill of the lab I started to get bored with you. I craved the trial and error of learning the equipment, the problem solving involved in setting up controls and variables, the methodical way I would execute the experiment, and the thrill of seeing it all come together in the end. I found that thrill somewhere else.
It started out innocently. At first I just knitted when I was with my friends. It wasn’t enough though, and soon I started looking up new techniques on my own and starting bigger and more complex projects, some of which I worked on when I knew I should have been studying. I couldn’t help myself, it was just so relaxing and you were so….not. But then when you pulled away from me after college it got much worse. Sometimes there would be months when I never even looked at a science book, all I did was knit.
The Sock Summit is what really did it for me though. I knew I could never really come back to you after that. I saw what it could be like to be involved in an industry that truly appreciated me for who I was. Learning was freely encouraged! No one needed any special credentials to be able to take a class or experiment with a new technique. Even just walking through the corridors I found people more than willing to teach me new things! The environment was cooperative instead of competitive. No one was trying to edge each other out for grants or be the smartest person in the room. If I asked a question and the teacher (or random knitter in the hall) didn’t know the answer, they didn’t stammer trying to cover up their ignorance, they said freely, “I don’t know, let’s figure it out together.” It was accepted that just because you don’t know everything there is to know about knitting doesn’t mean you aren’t clever.
I think it’s time to finally admit that you’re just not the right fit for me. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life scrambling for grants, having to constantly prove how smart I am, and – as much as I love lab work – I don’t want to have to spend eighty hours a week in a lab just to be respected as a professional. Perhaps it’s time for you to re-examine your priorities as well, because I am not the first scientist to be lured away by the arts. Vogue Knitting had an article in their Winter 2011/12 issue featuring interviews with five knitting professionals with scientific backgrounds. Some of them have left science entirely.
I am moving on with my life. I think it’s finally time to stop pretending this knitting thing is just a hobby when it clearly isn’t. I’m going pro.
Best of luck to you,