Wednesday, September 15, 2010

GS: textbook case

I don't know why I post about some of this stuff because if you don't already think I'm nuts, this will do it.  But what else am I going to post about?  This was my week.

It's been about three years since I first decided to go back to school.  I started with classes at our community college, then last fall, I started driving the two+ hours to get down to UTown and our state university.  In mid-October, I had to write the first paper I'd written in 24 years.  I remember the night before it was due, I was staring at the complete chaos on my desk, notes and papers and a stack of books, and my laptop and who knows what else, and thinking, "I just can't do this anymore.  It's not possible for my brain to function at this level.  I'm going to have to drop out."  and on and on.  I did get it done (by about 2 a.m., if memory serves, which wouldn't be a problem since I'm kind of a night owl anyway, except that then I have to be able to do that drive the next day).  And then I waited with dread to get it back and see how badly I had done.  I was so freaked out about it that--I'm not kidding-- when the prof handed our papers back, I grabbed mine, stuffed it straight into my backpack, drove two+ hours home, and made my spouse look at it first.  I was so terrified they were going to kick me out for being an idiot.  But of course I did fine, so I persevered and now here I am in the master's program.

And I'm doing it again.  It's completely neurotic.  I can reason with myself and rationalize and try to have some sense that I am a functioning adult human being, but it's all for naught, because Monday night I just lost it.  I had a big presentation to do on Tuesday (so not only the intimidation of being a grad student for the first time in decades, but also major fear of public speaking), and I came unglued.  By the time my poor spouse got home, I was standing at the stove cooking dinner and crying.  Not hysterical sobbing, but just a continuous, uncontrollable stream of tears down my face.  I knew it was going to be horrible, and that someone was going to have to pull me aside and tell me that oops, they had made a mistake and I really am not capable of this level of work and please go home.   Poor dh looks at me and says, "what in the world are you doing cooking dinner when you have a big project due tomorrow?"  and I wailed, "Well, I'm going to get kicked out of grad school tomorrow anyway, so I figured I might as wellllllll....."

To his credit, he did not roll his eyes and laugh.  Because I deserved it.  I pulled myself together and got my notes done, and the presentation was fine.  Far from perfect, but it got done, and it seemed to be fairly well received, and I'm sure I didn't fail.  Fortunately for me, I had a partner who was great.

But the point is that it is just mystifying to me how I can let myself get into that state.  It's completely irrational. I mean, even if it was horrible, there's no way I would get kicked out of grad school on the basis of that one assignment.  That's just silly.  But in the moment, I am totally immersed in the feeling of panic and misery and despair.

And believe it or not, the topic of the presentation was psychoanalytic theory.  So we were talking about neuroses.  About how Freud saw the id--the unconscious--as this mass of seething socially unacceptable sexual desires and urges that result in neuroses and compulsive behavior.  And Lacan's version is that whatever we can't speak, whatever we can't understand through the language that creates our consciousness, enters the unconscious and then is acted out outside our conscious control.  So not only am I freaking out about my ability to handle the academics of the assignment, I'm thinking to myself, "Oh, crap, this is me.  I'm a nutcase."

and it just might be true.  be thankful you don't have to live with me.


  1. Well, I have a layman's view of this - it seems better to have neuroses than psychoses!

    I'm also studying again but thankfully only for a year. Yay.

    I had a moment or two of feeling completely incapable when it came to academic writing, but I soon got into the swing of things. It was a matter of survival.

    I'm at university but bored out of my mind. Today's lecture was cancelled in favour of a conference which I'm sitting in but not engaged in 100%. Argh.

    I'm going to check out the online catalogue.

  2. Yes, what Sarah said. At least if you're neurotic, you are aware of it. :)

    I do the same thing. I'm in school too, and about once a week (seriously) I think, "What the hell am I doing? I am too old for this shit," 'this shit' being taking crap from professors, not understanding the material, banging my head against a wall repeatedly... But it's going to be worth it in the end. Right?! Right. :)

  3. yes, Blue Betty, it is definitely going to be worth it. We just have to keep telling ourselves that, because what else are we going to do. And hi, Sarah! So cool that we are all back in school.

  4. this definitely runs in the family. Can totally relate.