There are several milestones in a science career. Graduating with your BS degree. Choosing a graduate school. Picking a major professor. Qualifying Exams. Writing your first paper. Writing your first grant. Writing a thesis. Graduating with an MS or PhD. Finding a postdoc position. Finding a tenure-track position.
One of my good friends recently had her first paper published. I'm very excited for her. This is a big step for a graduate student. It went into a pretty high impact journal. While I'm happy for her, I am also sad for myself. I've had a few set-backs. My own first paper is at least a year away from even being started. The research is going well, but I just don't have enough data. Meanwhile, both a post-doc and the other grad student in my own lab are working on papers. My fellow student is a year behind me, but has been in this current lab longer. I am jealous of her, even though I know she put more time into the research and therefore...paper first.
I guess deep down I have a competitive streak that appears in odd ways. I want to have the first paper even though she was here first. Even though I have nothing worthy of an entire paper yet.