Are you waiting for someone to seek you out and praise you? That’s not going to happen.
Instead, I get a lot of motivation from doing the fascinating things and the interactions that come with the doing.
Publishing sucks. I hate writing papers. I hate editing them. I hate doing the revisions for them.
Reviewing papers sucks. I hate all authors everywhere and filling out editorial forms.
Prepping for classes sucks. I hate having to think “how will people manage to screw up this very simple task?”. I hate doing the same stinking problem with a bazillion steps so that anyone who tries can follow it.
Grading sucks. How could anyone mess up copying a fact from the book? How could anyone not be able to do arithmetic? How could anyone not being able to write a coherent sentence in legible penmanship?
Committee work sucks. I hate my colleagues who cannot attend a meeting on time, didn’t prepare for the meeting, and can’t make a decision even with a gun to their heads.
Research sucks. As soon as I get good at something, I have to learn something else. My hard drive crashed and it’s three days to put the system back into working order. I’ve lost 10 programs that I wrote in the past month and all the data as well. And, as soon as I really know what’s going on, then I have to write a damn paper or make a presentation.
Presentations suck. I can see half the room is reading the program to see if something better is coming up and I spent roughly five hours to make a presentation that is over in 10 minutes.
When students get a topic, then their pleasure is my pleasure. All is forgotten about prep and grading and all that remains is that shining joy that someone learned something and I was there to help it happen.
When my research is humming along, I looooooooooove the feel of being in the groove and will snap at anyone who mentions the weeks, months, or years of drudgery to get to that point.
Nothing is better than the spirited give and take with colleagues about our common interests. I’ve gotten a lot of trophies, medals, certificates, and A’s, but I would trade all of them for an afternoon of spirited conversation in one of my areas of interest where ideas are shared and everyone goes away with new things to try.
I do have mentors for particular aspects of my career, but they are often people who push me hard to try new things and revise whatever one more time before submitting instead of praising me.
I am seldom praised by anyone for the things of which I am most proud. Instead, I often infer praise from people inviting me to be a collaborator, be a reviewer, and be a speaker, or asking my advice in some area of my expertise. Clearly, they appreciate my efforts, but few ever come right out and say, “You’re doing a great job, Polly. Keep it up!” You, too, will have to learn to take pleasure and motivation in the doing instead of seeking praise, or you will be very unhappy waiting for praise that will be too little with huge gaps between instances.