There's an "investment" in academia that's nicer than "just a job." Grad school is all us going through this same grand challenge. I get why people want to stay in it. I suppose the thing to do is get a job that lets you feel that way too.
You can never thank everyone as much as you want.
Offloading mental work to parts of the brain that are good at things. This is a whole topic. I was thinking about it in the context of emotional regulation, but then just heard about it on a podcast: a memory expert talking about how he memorizes decks of cards by associating each with a famous person, and then telling stories about all the people. Way easier than trying to straight-up memorize letters and numbers. (and different than the old trick of chunking, which also helps.)
But back to emotional regulation: one thing I've learned (from therapists, mostly) is that it's important to be gentle and kind to all the people in your head. I'm not talking about multiple personality disorder, or tulpas, just the common thing where you have lots of sometimes-conflicting thoughts in there. But I'm calling all those thoughts/voices "people", because they're all just versions of yourself at different times. And we're good at being kind to people and incorporating them into a group; we're less good at incorporating facts and opinions. (and we're not often kind to ourselves.)
The problem about rules changing is when they exclude more people. Rise above tribalism. More on this maybe, if I can form my swirling thoughts into a coherent narrative.
We used to tell kids "follow your dreams! you can be anything you want!" That's a little bit true but also very misleading and not at all the thing I'm going to tell my kids. Some things that are true:
- you can maybe be anything. You cannot be everything. You've got to narrow it down. But narrowing it down is hard because:
- some things will not work, due to inherent limitations (short NBA star, etc.)
- some things will not ever fit your passion. You don't know this until you try. Imagine your passion as a little puppy, and you're trying to figure out what this puppy likes.
- some things will fit your passion, but later. It's a puppy, not a big dog; it'll change over time.
Passion does exist! But it's a thing you grow and actively discover, not a thing you decide or passively discover.