It perplexes me how, when something pleasant occurs to someone, while they may want to spread the news, the event generally is a bit of an egocentric one, such that the lucky person is justified to bask and revel in it.
However, when someone makes a negative revelation, they often feel the need to play hot potato. They are not content to keep this discovery to themselves, but rather need to fling it desperately at others, with the hope that they will catch it, too.
As they say, misery loves company.
Which is why, no matter what they may say in a job interview, some people are never content merely claiming "differences in perspectives" when bidding farewell to a job or even a friendship.
Instead, they feel the need to tear the entire edifice down, and lure in as many people to "their" side as possible to aid in the destruction, no matter how separate these people may be from this initial"difference in perspective".
Humans tend not to be too good at letting bygones be bygones.
The fact that this is directly relevant to me at this moment is probably pretty transparent at this point.
Today was my first day back in the lab after the holidays. I hadn't even gotten my first coffee of the day when I was cornered at my computer by PL.
(A bit of an introduction to PL: She is a Masters student in my lab. While her and I have developed a friendship, due to some circumstances out of the scope of the issue at hand, and her tendencies towards gossip, I try to remain a little in the sidelines in interactions with her. She also is one of those uber-proud Americans in Canada. While I have no problem with pride in one's country, I know she misses her home, and I find Canadian tendencies towards US-bashing tiresome, I don't need to be constantly reminded how much better and more glamourous everything-- down to the most miniscule detail-- is in the States. Stop pretending like we live in a clueless little hick town instead of a city of several million. You're the one who moved here after all.)
PL has not been subtle in her disdain for our supervisor recently. However, I wasn't prepared for the first thing out of her mouth after telling me how badly she wanted to connect after the holidays to be how she was sick and tired of everything, thinking of dropping out, etc, etc...
At first, I thought maybe this was her socially unskilled way of telling me she needed a sympathetic ear. However, it turned to a tale of how no one was happy in our program. R was thinking of dropping out because the program didn't provide enough money. T missed her partner. K was too stressed. There was only one person in her entire cohort who actually liked the program.
Then it went on to more problems with the university, the horrendous nature of our supervisor, how she had convinced our mutual friend N not to return for her PhD.
Every time she could steal a moment of my time, it went on.
And, gradually, I realized that she was not merely talking for the sake of hearing herself. She was trying to convince me that I had made the incorrect choice. That all these people couldn't be wrong. That there was something somehow wrong with me for being happy with my choice. That I was erroneous to be pleased with my relationship with my supervisor, for there was so many ways he was wronging me.
She was trying to make me feel guilty for being satisfied.
And I just wanted to scream at her. I wanted to shout that she does not merely have horrible luck, but that she attracts drama to herself. I wanted to scold her for being ungrateful for getting into such a well-known school with such a phenomenal and respected supervisor, especially when she was only wait-listed at this one grad school, whereas I got into multiple good schools and carefully chose this one. I wanted yell at her to stop being so unprofessional, that conflicts with a supervisor at this stage in one's career weren't resolved by underhanded gossipy techniques. I wanted to bellow that of course graduate school is insanely hard at times, of course money is tight, of course its hard to be separate from your loved ones-- this was all part of the package you signed up for, and if you can't handle it, that's fine, but don't act surprised and try to bring us all down with you.
Instead, I just nod, grunt something non-committal about how stressed she sounds, and pretend to be fixated by my computer screen.
And inwardly realize that it is to the sidelines for me again. It seems that even those planning to be responsible for the mental health of others cannot avoid petty drama. So, again, as I have done with other groups since grad school begin, I play neutral, and slowly back away.
Lab work is feeling more like an exercise in biting my tongue than productivity lately.