Another issue is that as I've been exploring my atheist beliefs, and reading works by other atheists, I find that I feel very strongly, in ways I have tended to supress for social reasons, that most of the religion I see around me is destructive. And since this allows for only the negative sense of tolerance, I feel at odds with myself trying to meet the UU ideal of positive tolerance and my own ideals of strong atheism at the same time. I think they are compatible, in the long run, certainly. But I'm not there yet, and it seems disingenuous of me to be a UU until I've come to grips with all that.
I definitely think I've grown in self-awareness with regards to the 'spiritual' side of my life the last month. So I have no regrets. But I think maybe it's time to move on and try other things for a while.
I'm very thirsty for real intellectual accomplishment, these days. The work I'm doing in the labs is confusing to such a degree that I make progress slowly, and without breaking new ground that anyone around me would care about. I need to get past that stage so I can do things that will merit (legitimate) praise from my co-workers. That one smallish thing would have a huge positive impact on my general sense of happiness and self worth, I think. At least now my project is cool and valuable, even if I'm still sucking in my efforts to pursue it. That alone is a big positive shift, and I don't take it for granted.