Friday, September 08, 2006

Ambivalence, part 2

A few weeks ago I posted about being ambivalent about the start of the school year. I was hoping that by now I'd have found my rhythm and that the rhythm and routine of the school year would help me feel better about all things school-related.

Well, I'm still waiting for the ambivalence to disappear.

I don't feel good about myself right now, about being back at school, even about being in social situations with my friends. I'm usually fairly outgoing among my friends and co-workers. Lately? I hide in my office unless I absolutely have to talk to someone, and when I'm out with friends I'm strangely quiet. I just don't know what to say or how to engage with people right now. I'm slow returning emails and phone calls. I feel like I have to try really hard to be social and "interesting" to people. I feel like I just complain all the time---maybe that's why I'm reluctant to engage with people I care about.

School-wise, my confidence is at an all-time low about my teaching. I'm teaching some really great stuff to some really interesting students, and one of my courses has a ton of buzz around it (but interestingly, only from people outside my department). But my brain has chosen to play, in an infinite loop, all the negative things that my colleagues have said about my teaching. As a result, I find myself starting to do some really unhealthy things, like overprepare for class, stress about things beyond my control, and second-guess every pedagogical decision I make.

I thought I was hiding this fairly well, but yesterday a colleague I'm really close to pulled me aside and said "You do not look happy. Something is definitely wrong. Tell me what's up." And it was then that I realized that I've been in denial about this stuff for a long time now, and that I had to do something to make me feel like I have some semblance of control over my work life, which is where I think this all originated in the first place.

So for now, I'm in a funk. I'm trying to find my way out of it, muddling through life for now. I'm not sure how long I'll be here, or if this is just a temporary thing or one that will linger. Hopefully I'll figure this all out soon.


post-doc said...

I so wish things were going better for you. But you have, from when I first started reading you, always struck me as incredibly bright and capable. Looking at you and seeing someone I consider to be so talented, then watching you struggle to find your footing an what could be a less than ideal environment - well, it's helped me evaluate my environment. To not feel increasingly inadequate or awful about myself, but to consider parts of my job that aren't working very well (though I think highly of my institution.) In doing this, I've been able to change some things, while making a list of others to work on.

So I guess I'm thanking you very much for writing about these things - sharing your path through a difficult process and being relatable to those of us in only loosely similar situations. I know you'll figure it out, and hope it happens sooner rather than later.

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

I understand that feeling of ambivalence. I waded through all of last year feeling rather ambivalent and angry about the doctorate. My only suggestion is to be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to feel the way that you do, and make sure to take care of yourself. I've no doubt in how great you are, and I think it will just take a while to wade your way out of this fog. Best wishes.

noricum said...

It sounds like you may be suffering from depression. I'd recommend going in and talking to your doctor about it. (Depression ruined several years of my life... please don't let it do the same to you.)

Jane said...

Thanks for the kind words, Katie and FCSGS! Katie, that's part of the reason why I share all the awful things that happen--because I know how isolating it can feel to be in this field (and related fields) and talking about it can help bring it out into the open. I'm glad that this has been helpful to you---and I wish you luck in your situation, too! FCSGS, being patient and acknowledging my feelings is great advice. (And I wish you luck with your often-less-than-ideal situation, too.)

noricum, I have spent some time lately trying to figure out if this is depression or not. I may go talk to someone (one appointment can't hurt, right?) Thanks for the reminder, and I hope you are in a better place now!

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