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2010-10-21 - 11:17 a.m.

...the war against insecurity...

It's a few minutes after 11am and I am taking it slow today. I decided to play hooky. Well, actually, I decided that since my parents are only here for a few more days, it really does make sense for me to take those days off so that we can do things all together.

Susi and her Papa have gone off to do the shopping for this evening, and I am supposed to be working... ahem. Oh well. I've gotten a little done at least.

It's hard for me to relax. I am definitely tightly wound, and I am having a hard time - so far today - letting myself enjoy the day away from work. I think that this is because of too many deadlines coming my way, and that ever-ominous sound of the ticking tenure clock in my head. I need to publish. I NEED to publish. So it is hard for me to see two free days in my schedule and think of them as days for the family rather than days with my manuscript that is SO CLOSE to being finished.

This week has brought very strong feelings of inadequacy. Probably related to the student, but also related to my ability to think up and design unique and important research topics for my students. I often think to myself, WHY am I supervising these people? What qualifications do I have to do this, when there are so many other people who could do a better job?

Self defeating thoughts. When this happens, I try to remind myself that they are probably the norm in academia (if not the rest of the world).

I've always had them, they never go away. And then I try to remind myself that the only way you get where you are going is by taking a step (or my case, it sometimes feels like jumping off a cliff into the water...).

I've always felt this way. I remember my first job applications when I was in grad school. I RAN to the printer to collect my resume, because I thought that it was so poor that I didn't want anyone to see it. I couldn't imagine that anyone would be interested in the project ideas that I have.

I still feel this way when I hold on to research papers forever, making sure that every last word is perfect. And then I let it go - off the cliff to see if it will swim.

And sometimes I think that ignorance of what you are proposing to do is the best way to be. Because if you knew how complicated the problem actually is, you wouldn't even try to start. So I try to convince my students to jump in, too.

And so, it feels like life in academia is practice in accepting that you will always be a little bit inadequate. And then not letting that stop you.

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