Tomorrow morning I will pick up a colleague, and together we’ll drive to Leipzig to attend the annual meeting of the German DFG chemodiversity consortium. I’m really looking forward to it. In fact, I was looking forward to this meeting so much that I shifted my parental leave plans to two weeks later than originally planned.
I’ve been part of the consortium for about two years. Although I was not part of the group of PIs, I was asked to join the group as a supervisor of one of the PhD projects. Because the start of the project coincided with the start of the pandemic, I never met with the group in person. The only previous in-presence meeting was during my first month of parental leave in August last year. I have of course met with them in online meetings, and knew several of the PIs before I got involved in the project, but nevertheless I’m really excited to meet everyone in person tomorrow.
It’s fun, exciting, and a bit strange. This is a relatively small-scale meeting, but without a doubt the largest gathering of people I have been part of probably since my own PhD defense ceremony. Even with the strictest covid regulations, my psyche is not used to having too many real people around me.
Real people. They scare me.
I consider myself quite an introvert, and I don’t necessarily like large gatherings. You could say that the pandemic (and working in academia) turned me into even more of a socially awkward penguin than I already was. I somehow succeeded to brush up my social skills during my PhD, but I haven’t used them much in the last 2.5 years. I may have to reinvent this wheel. Polish up my social shield. God, how did this shit work again?
Yes. I do feel quite nervous about that aspect of meetings. I’m not ashamed of that.
But maybe I don’t have to worry about it so much. Perhaps it’s not just me, and maybe all of us will have turned into super awkward beings. Maybe some were weird and awkward already. They’re all scientists after all. In that case, it could somehow be interesting to witness. The struggle of the awkward bunch. If so, I would hope that someone would film it. It would make great television…
Or maybe, just maybe, it will all be fun!
Ten great PhDs presenting their work, and four exciting keynote speakers.
It will probably be fun.