When I remember my university years in the 90s and 00s, I recall something that I now find a little narrow-minded (at best) or dishonest (when I’m in a bad mood). Most of our professors, of any ranks, age and experience, would tell us that “when” we are researchers we would do this and that.
Saying “when”, as it turns out, put a huge pressure on us students. No path is a path of when’s. Paths are made of if’s. Paths are made of what if’s and why not’s.
Just because a professor shows some expectations for you does not mean that you have to fulfil them. You should question expectations and assumptions from others. You should always wonder whether the person they see is really who you are, or who they imagine you could be.
Now don’t take me wrong. Sometimes it is a huge encouragement to have a professor thinking so high of you that they say, in effect, that you are “researcher material”. It can be inspirational, and if that is the case, then great! But some other times it does not resonate as you think it should. It’s not really you inside. And it’s ok. You just have to dig a little deeper to carve your own path.