Monday, May 23, 2005

When passion is a bad thing

Tonight, one of the tasks on my to-do list is writing up a brief proposal to present to my department tomorrow. Normally, I can just sit down and bang something out rather quickly, especially when the proposal is informal (as this one is). But I'm finding it really difficult to finish this task.

The problem is that the proposal is for something that's really important to me (a mentoring program, sort of), and so I'm finding it hard to write something that's (a) short, (b) rational, and (c) doesn't sound like a manifesto. What's not helping is that I tried to bring this up at our last meeting and it did not go over well at all. (In fact, the responses of my colleagues were quite upsetting to me---I don't care if someone disagrees with me, but when you don't even try to listen to what I'm saying....well, that's not going to go over well with me.) Esteemed Senior Colleague suggested that I try putting my thoughts in writing, that perhaps the group would be more accepting of the idea if they could "see" it. And I agreed....not knowing just how difficult it would be.

Mentoring is also an intensely personal issue for me. In the past, I've been in situations where I knew I was not being mentored, not being offered the same opportunities as my (male) peers, and had to fight and struggle to get those same opportunities and to find my own mentors. No doubt, it had some very chilling effects on my early career. Earlier this year, I found out that a minor part of my tenure process had not been executed as stated in the handbook---a yearly review did not happen, or at least not in the format that it should have. It was completely random that I even found out about it. Would having a mentor in my department have helped? Maybe, maybe not. But since then, I've become much more vocal about getting mentoring for myself....and for other junior faculty in my department as well.

Anyway, what all this has meant is that anything I've tried to write down so far has come out as very emotional. It's hard to separate feelings from facts when the personal stakes are so high. I will probably end up chucking this until a half hour before the meeting and then just writing up something that I won't have time to dwell on the personal.

Update (Wed AM): Well, I decided to chuck the proposal after writing the original post and paint my nails instead. I tackled it again yesterday morning, wrote something that didn't suck too badly....and it went over extremely well at the meeting! Esteemed Senior Colleague was right on the money on this one. Happiness reigns!


Dr. H said...

sometimes the emotions can help communicate in some contexts, but I suppose not this one so much?

I agree, getting mentoring support can be crucial. I'm glad you're pursuing this, even if it is difficult.

Turtle said...

My word, you're sure being put to the fire a bit! Sorry to hear about the first year review oops. Grr.

Not sure if this would help, but when I had to do something vaguely similar once, I was given the suggestion to write a draft in two parts -- first simply the facts about the topic, and then a second part about my emotions about the topic. I think that ultimately helped me have more control over how I presented the situation.

There is *so* much research out there about the importance of mentoring. I wish you could get someone from AWIS to come talk to your department!!!

Best wishes getting the proposal accepted!