Skip to main content

Learning to let go: Archaeonerd on the postdoc rollercoaster... and yoga

My good friend Becky Farbstein, who blogs as Archaeonerd, has been in the same difficult place I was following her PhD, when you have to learn the hard lessons about the paucity of postdoctoral funding in the UK. She also went through the trauma of turning away from a vocation that is a major part of our identities, and trying to accept that this doesn't negate you as a person. Also like me, she found that in fact she had other passions that could become a larger part of her life, in her case she took the decision to train as a yoga teacher and has been extremely successful.
I'm delighted to say that the similarities between our postdoc experiences don't end there, as she's just been awarded funding from the Leverhulme Trust with William Davies at University of Southampton to do a hugely exciting project on early European ceramics, and so she's now officially re-entering the academic fray. She's written a post about this rollercoaster postdoc ride we've been living, it has some great thoughts I share and some very valuable advice from the perspective of a yogi. I especially agree with her perspective that we cannot rely anymore on 'careers' in academia; a healthier (and self-preservational) attitude is to enjoy the opportunities we do get, and accept we are lucky if there are times in our lives we can earn money doing what we love. 


Becky said…
Wow, Becky, thanks for posting about this. One important thing I left out of that post is that it helps tremendously to have good friends in your field who are empathetic to what you are going through. Many therapeutic chats with you got me through some rough times. :-)
I think it takes more guts to walk away from academia and create a new path in life, than to stick it out in ever more unpleasant circumstances just in case something happens. But doing it with peer support makes all the difference, so same back at ya!

Popular posts from this blog

Wherefore Art Thou, Neanderthal?

Adventures in Silcrete: "It's flint Jim, but not as you know it!"

Something that everyone who works in the archaeology of deep prehistory has to get to grips with is the technology of stone tools, or lithics. This includes thinking about the ways in which people made their tools, which techniques they chose to use, etc. It also means that Palaeolithic archaeologists, alongside needing to know stuff about climatology, palaeontology, and ecology, need to delve into the science of geology. People in prehistory might not have understood the origins of different kinds of rocks, but they certainly appreciated the diversity in stone qualities, not only between very different rock types but also within geological/mineral categories.

These two Neandertal tools that I studied for my PhD, called handaxes, are both very finely worked, but made from completely different rocks. The one on the left (Castle Lane, Bournemouth) is made from Cretaceous flint found in the south and east of Britain, and the one on the right (Coygan Cave) from rhyolite, a volcanic stone…

Geological Road Trip: Volcanic landscapes of the Massif Central

Geology and geography are fundamental to archaeologists in understanding the landscape contexts that people of the past lived within. While climate and environments have drastically altered over the time span of the Palaeolithic, the topography often, on a broad scale, remains relatively similar. Erosion can be extensive, river systems can change course (the Thames used to flow much further north than it now does for example), and the great depth of sediment accumulation in some areas changed local situations. But the big stuff made of rock like plateaux, mountains and watersheds have remained relatively static over the time hominins have been around. There are exceptions to this however, primarily in the form of volcanism and tectonic action, and the region I'm working in is a textbook example. Here in the Massif Central, there is a long history of volcanic action of many types, the most recent of which occurred less than 5000 years ago- well within the history of human settleme…