Long story short, I'm a struggling first year graduate student. I considered myself very lucky when I found out that I was accepted into one of the best programs in my field, but didn't realize at the time how steep the learning curve would be to work alongside the best. I work in a wet lab, which I joined three months ago. However, given that I had very little research experience in undergrad, I've had a rough start. I don't think I fully realized the level of critical thinking skills that would be expected of me, and still depended on other people to tell me what to do and what to work on. A lot of science conversations I've had with people in the lab have also been completely over my head. Like I should be the one developing novel knowledge, yet sometimes I can't even understand someone else when they describe something to me (not just older grad students either, a lot of the undergrads also know more than me)... As a result, people in the lab have started treating me like I'm stupid or inferior, and my PI is slowly decreasing my level of responsibility.
I've spent the past few months in complete depression and anxiety, which is making the problem even worse. I would really like to change this situation, and have been working really hard on my project, but I'm not sure whether it's already too late to change the impression of my labmates and PI. So I guess my questions are as follows:
Have you ever had/known any grad students who started slow, but have reversed bad first impressions? How much harder did they have to work to achieve the same level of respect?
What do you think of students that on average take longer to learn the same technique or concept? Should such student still stay in research given the amount of competition that now exists in academia, or is it realistically a waste of their time?
How would you recommend I go about making changes. Work harder and push out more experimental results? Dig into and understand literature broadly? How should I go about changing people's impressions of me?
For any PIs out there, what do you think of your students that are not meeting your expectations? Do you wish you never took them on as a student, or are you still rooting for them to make changes?