I'm really starting to feel like I'm following in another student's footsteps. And I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.
It's not like we're working on the same project. And we didn't come in to the lab from the same direction or background. But we have vaguely similar skillsets, at least in the vector space defined by the skills of students in our field. (Does that make sense? Because if it does I have a feeling it's an awesome analogy. Or just really nerdy. I'm sorry, it must be the viruses talking)
The other student (let's call her Alex) is nearly done her PhD and has been free with advice on all aspects of the lab/department/student experience. And science, that too. We get along socially and people have commented that apparently I'm the replacement Alex, or that the PI must have hired me to fill the void when she graduates.
Alex has also given me some older proposals and written work from years ago (partly as an example of what not to do...) But reading the stuff over gave me a rather creepy sense of deja vu. Switch a few keywords and we could be talking about the same projects. We're starting out taking the same approaches, and are at approximately the same point in our experiments (aha! So my progress is not as glacial as I had feared...)
In some ways this is kind of nice. It lessens the "I have no idea what's expected of me or how to proceed with this" feeling, and it's like I have a ready-made fit into the lab. But that's a bad thing as well: I don't want to just fill someone's place. I don't people will really make that connection though--we're not all that alike, personality wise, and we work on different things. So that's ok.
The only other problem is...one of Alex's initial projects failed pretty spectacularly. She went through a real low point in her research early on before things started to work. And right now, after I've had One of Those Weeks where nothing is working, I can't help but worry that that's what I'm headed for too.