“Take ownership of your work.”
I’ve heard this statement countless times along my PhD journey, usually as a phantom voice in the back of my mind, but also from professors, advisors, and others whom I admire.
There’s just one problem: confidence vs. arrogance. When we conduct “research”, we are re-searching, learning about what has come before us, and building upon the ideas of others. To detect and herald one’s own “novel contribution” seems inauthentic and arrogant. My work is but a grain of sand compared to what has come before. To define its value and place means to define my own value and place in the sea of “sustainable engineering researchers” or whatever group in which I happen to find myself. It is not easy, but it is becoming necessary. It is time to cross that bridge.