I searched into the dictionary and the first meaning of the word “change” is “to make or become different”. Now, not everybody appreciates changes and I can see why. Usually a change is accompanied by the fear of the unknown and the possibility of being thrown into a very different world is always scary. Talk to an Italian and ask him/her why their politicians seem to be always the same. Most of them will answer that they tend to vote for the people they already know even if they are aware that these people are not good politicians. The fear of not knowing what or who could come next is so big that they prefer to make the wrong decision and vote again for somebody who already showed his faults (sooo many) and virtues (sooo few).
Given this quick explanation of change, allow me to introduce a second word that next to the previous one, might scare you even more.
Change of supervision.
No, it is not a myth or the monster that stands in your wardrobe. It happens for real and I think we should talk about it. I won’t use names and I will be extremely neutral (even if somebody thinks I won’t).
Let’s talk about student X and supervisor Y. X starts a project with Y; at first everything goes smoothly as X needs to be guided and Y needs to guide. They seem to work together just fine and they can actually establish a friendly relationship. One day though, something goes wrong and one of the two variables of the equation cannot link with the other one anymore. They try but there is factor Z in the way and they become magnets of the same charge. What is factor Z? It can be anything. Generally it is just clash of personalities or ideas or a knot of misunderstandings that the harder they try to unravel, the more it tangles. I don’t like to blame X or Y. It is just life. And this doesn’t also mean that X and Y will never get along. How many times have you thought: “oh, that is one of my best friends, but I would never work with him/her?”
What I am trying to say is that sometimes, unfortunately, things don’t go as you planned and the best thing to do is just take what comes as an opportunity to learn something instead of being stubborn and try hard to work out what doesn’t simply works. It is worth trying but it is also important to recognise when to stop and move on. Blaming yourself or somebody else it is not the way to go and telling yourself that you failed is even worse. Let’s start to assign the right name to things. As a friend told me once, three years is a very long relationship and, for some, might even be the longest so far and it is important to feel comfortable. It is important for both X and Y and for the research itself.
Look back at the dictionary and read definition number 4: “to give and receive something in return”. This is what I call an opportunity.