Saturday, March 26, 2011

A New, More Forgiving Way of Thinking about the Work I'm Doing

Athletes can push themselves very hard, but a good athlete also knows when she's pushed perhaps harder than she can take. She doesn't beat herself up for being sore the day after a grueling bit of exertion. Nor does she castigate herself for not being an olympic-class swimmer the first time out if she's spent the last ten years training as a pole-vaulter.

My brain is battered. In an ideal world, I could give myself recovery time, but deadlines suggest that there's going to be a bit more pushing before that happens, and I'm going to pay for it. I'm throwing new challenges at my little brain, and it may not be up to them all just yet.

BUT... I in no way need to blame myself for feeling worn-out. It is a natural consequence of over-exertion, and initial clumsiness is to be expected when exercising new mental muscles. I will likely stumble a bit in my upcoming presentation, but in the long run, it's going to be o-fc*king-kay.


Historiann said...

Good. I'm glad you're o-f*cking-kay about this presentation.

And may I add: academia is very hierarchical, and the fact that you're a tenured proffie with a book out with one of the most prestigious presses in your field (actually, as a women's historian, it's probably *the* most prestigious press) means that people will be much nicer to you anyway than they would be to a grad student or to someone who's not as far along career-wise as you are.

It's not right, maybe, but you're in a great place to take on a new challenge. You've already shown that you know the ropes and can get the job done in one field of expertise, so you'll get credit, not shame or blame, for doing what you're doing.

(I just had this pep talk with one of my BFFs here in CO, who's at about your career stage. He too is trying something new and different and is scheduled to present at a tough conference, but I just think it's different when you've published a book.)

I will be interested to hear what Squadrato says about this, if she comments.

Dr. S said...

AMEN to every single thing you've just written. And papers and presentations where people are talking about things that are still actual questions, still actual areas of inquiry, rather than things nailed down and all known about, are fascinating. I love things messy: I love seeing people's processes, and I love getting to ask "have you thought of *this* yet?" questions from a place of genuine curiosity and collaboration. It's going to be AWESOME.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

And remember, moving into new fields and exploring uncharted territory is what makes being a scholar FUCKEN FUN!!!!111!!111!!!11!1!