Looking for the Helpers in Academia
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
― Fred Rogers
I’ve noticed something when things aren’t going well in lab – whenever I’ve almost lost hope, someone does something that restores my faith in academia or science.
These amazing things aren’t always “big”. They’ve been things like staying late to help a co-worker or buying coffee for a friend, or volunteering for an event put on by a student or postdoc group. Sometimes it’s someone putting in the work to start a club for like-minded individuals to get together and work toward a common goal. The helper is sometimes a peer, sometimes an administrator or a faculty member who goes out of their way to help someone.
Of course, there’s nothing magical about the times when lab work isn’t going well. People are acting as helpers all the time – I just don’t take the time to notice them when I’m already feeling good. And I can always do more myself to BE a helper – I can help other people, feel good by doing so, and maybe improve the day of someone I didn’t even know was watching.