I am an international PhD graduate who joined a postdoc in a private univ in the U.S. four months ago. After careful research and studying the group profiles, I joined a group (less than 2 years old) with a dynamic PI who seems genuinely interested in pursuing similar research interests as mine and moving the field of research forward with some great ideas.
In some sense it was all going well.
I was asked to come up some research topics and systems that I would like to work with. I ended up spending some time (nearly two months) doing some simulations, writing a fellowship grant and coming up with some workable systems that I can start with.
The problem is he has very high expectations and it's getting tough to live upto his expectations, which is in turn stressing me out. We have frequent meetings and discussions, which is a good sign, but I am always focused on living up to his standards rather than research itself. Almost everything, like plotting my timeline sheets to plotting data to presenting PowerPoint, he always has constant criticisms. I took it up as a challenge and tried to do the best I could.
But lately, I feel intimidated and totally worthless. I find it difficult to contribute to group discussions with the fear of uttering something stupid.
That happened today. I froze midway my explanation (got stuck while deriving something). When asked to explain something basic, I totally blew it off. I should have known how to explain it, but I somehow couldn't. This pissed the PI off and he went on a rant about how he expected me to know at least this and it was unacceptable.
While I do agree with him, this has again instilled a fear in me if he is going to throw me out of the lab. Work wise, I have just started with my initial experiments and I am trying my best. Altogether I don't feel too good and feel like I am in a soup. Almost re-considering my options of moving away from the lab.
Some of the questions that I have are as follows:
- Is it ok to feel intimidated as a postdoc? Or, is it a sign that it may be a postdoc position is not suitable for me?
- Should I give myself some more time and see how my research work progresses before I make the decision of moving away from the lab?
- Am I just over-reacting for not being able to answer a few questions and not taking it as a positive sign to improve myself?