But the truth is, I don't feel the point of any of this. I don't feel
that even if I get an academic job, I can survive the constant
pressure of securing grants, doing exciting but not groundbreaking
research, feeling disappointment when submitting to medium impact
journals, being overshadowed by successful colleagues.
To be honest, you will have similar pressures outside academia, so general dissatisfaction with things like this is not a great reason to leave academia if you are doing well.
I have 9 years of experience in my field and still haven't been able to obtain a "senior" position, while I see people with a couple of years of experience earning twice as much as I do. It's soul-destroying!
When it comes to industry research, the positions in my field are hard
to come by. I am an immigrant in the US and most of the positions
require permanent residency or citizenship. I have been facing
constant rejection for the past year. Also, I feel that my motivation
to do fast paced research has reduced significantly since I graduated
my PhD in 2020.
Outside academia, you will also face constant rejection. For one reason or another, most companies will not want to employ you. But some will still string you along for a long sequence of interviews. Many will ghost you (this is a much worse problem than in academia.)
I have been considering non-academic jobs like data science (bit
unrealistic) or software developer (more realistic, after taking a
boot-camp or something similar). However, these will not make use of
my PhD background and field of study.
That is true, but such jobs will make use of the fact that you have learned how to learn things, which is an incredibly valuable skill! Many people in many fields are not very good at this.
Alternatively, I am thinking of going into scientific editing and
communication with hopes of transitioning into a business development
role. This will somewhat keep me connected to science and my field but
away from the bench.
I did have a friend who went this route after his PhD in mathematics, but he gave it up after a while. I have the impression that it's much less realistic than the other suggestions you make above. So I wouldn't put all the eggs in this basket.
If you are interested in scientific communication, I suggest you begin by starting a blog and see how long you can keep it up.
However, one thing that stops me from making a decision is the feeling
of guilt and failure to achieve what I had planned when I started my
grad school journey. I wanted to be a scientist, innovate, satiate my
curiosity, helm a lab and be someone that plays an important part in
Well, this is the sunk cost thing, indeed. I also spent my entire life trying to be an academic, and I still feel guilty about giving it up, 10 years later.
Now, I don't know how to move past my feelings. Any advice?
It sounds like you are doing well in your academic career, so congratulations! I would do a bit of research, speak to any contacts you have in industry (particularly former academics) and try to learn about what their work is like. Take some programming courses if necessary, so you don't feel like you would be starting from zero.
Find out about routes which people took out of academia. Don't be afraid to ask people about their experiences. Most will be happy to help you.
Don't be discouraged by the constant job rejections. It's tough at the moment, and just as bad in industry as academia.
Don't throw money at a therapist unless you really think it will help. Americans think therapy is the answer to everything. I recommend talking to your friends first.
I know people who left academia after a postdoc or two. I also know people who did research on industry, learned some useful things for their Plan B, but ended up staying in academia. Both routes are viable.