Saturday, January 5, 2008

anxious much?

of course i shouldn't be surprised, but anxiety is alive and well for me and my academic colleagues. in this post-xmas apparent disaster of unfinished papers, projects, living amongst the debris of all those unachievable goals (such as: i am going to read every single book on my topic over the break, i am going to finish all my research, my comps, my dissertation, etc.) that we deliriously, giddily, outlined for ourselves back in the heady days of december, when the holiday season promised to be with us forever, we find ourselves sad, anxious, unmotivated, and most vomit-inducingly, overwhelmed.

everyone i have talked to is either: scrambling to finish something, prep something, or simply keep themselves from dropping out and becoming a chef. or a florist. or working for walmart (not that there is anything wrong with that). psst. i'll let you in on a little secret about those of us in academia: we are overachievers with underdeveloped emotional intelligence. we think to ourselves, "poor us that we have so much to do, so much to become, so much knowledge to pack into the 5% of our brain that we actually have access to." we pity ourselves for getting to do meaningful work. for getting two weeks off a christmas and then, god forbid!, have to go back and slog over the topics that we are passionate about, teaching that helps us to grow, change, and evolve as people, and communities of knowledge that sustain us in friendship and in intellectual growth.

poor us.

it is sad for us really.

however, as foolish as i make it sound, or as facetiously as i try to slough it off, i think all of us suffer from taking ourselves too seriously sometimes. from thinking that we are extremely important. and that, somehow, the world does, in fact and unquestionably, revolve around us. whatever the reason we do this, we start thinking along these lines: that the world will end if the paper doesn't get done, if the course isn't perfect, if the report isn't our finest work. but it never does. and still we worry. we obsess. we overwhelm easily.

as is a common refrain on this blog, i don't have the answer(s). but instinctively i feel the problem lies in the over-evaluation of our own individual importance (not that we aren't all special, ya'll). in seeing the revolutions of the world as too fixed in our own orbits. we don't realize that everyone strives to be and do their best. that people most often don't do things to us (judge, evaluate, disdain) but for themselves (to quell their own feelings of worry, insecurity, uncertainty). that everyone exists in the worry of their own making and are not, could never be, as concerned with what you are doing, how you are doing, as they are in evaluating their own goodness, bestness, ability, inability... perhaps then, the answer lies in a shift of focus. off ourselves and onto others. in being sensitive to the worlds of others' making.

to trust our greatness to the care and nurturance of others.

or perhaps...

we (well, um, i) could just chill the f*ck out. ;P


t_moore8 said...

That was a good blog...I can totally relate...I have SO much work to do this semester...I can't wait until my courses are done :P
On a side note, I'm definitely leaning towards going back to industry, at least in the engineering area of research, I really miss the social aspect of jobs...I found that out a lot last the lifestyle of the profs here is pretty rough...they really don't spend time with their families...which I don't see as very good.
I can relate to the worry though, last night was the first time I went to sleep without worrying about much since last November :P
I think you are right, we put a lot more stress on ourselves than we need too.

jacks said...

it is a beautiful thing Tom, to have a practical and highly lucrative skill-set to fall back on after your master's. i wonder what that is like. ;) do you think they need people to write essays at walmart?

but seriously, worry is toxic for sure. but i still think you need to do your doctorate. so there.

M-H said...

You might be interested in the blog of Mel Gregg. She is a young academic at UQ here in Aus who often reflects on these issues.

jacks said...

hey Mary-Helen! so nice to have you here! and thanks for the tip - i am always looking for new blogs to add to the roll.