Monday, November 15, 2010

dealing with today's demons

The post from Saturday (which actually was written earlier last week, but I didn't get around to editing it and posting it until this weekend) talked about giving up expectations.  Well, actually, what I was talking about was being opposed to society's expectations, but the immediate problem for me this morning is dealing with my own expectations of myself.  Oddly, and as is often the case, Lucy March's post touched on this topic today, too.  Which I suppose is good because otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here typing this out.

So... a lot of my expectations for how this grad school thing was going to play out have turned out to be ... incorrect?  unsupportable?  wrong?  yeah, wrong.  that's it.  This is not going to be what I thought it would be.  I knew it would be hard, it wasn't that I was thinking I would cruise through it.  I know myself well enough to know how I react to deadlines and writing papers, etc.  I did enough of it last year to know what I was getting into.  But it's hard, really hard, in ways I hadn't expected, and in directions I don't really want to go.  And it's not going to end up with me having found my people, the place where I finally fit in.  Which is making me question the whole reason I'm doing this.  Not helped any by the fact that my 3rd prospectus in ten days is due tomorrow and with about 24 hours to go, I don't even have a topic at the moment.  I know I'm writing about Kafka's Metamorphosis, but that's as far as I've come. 

You know, the one thing I can't seem to get past after nearly 30 years of working on it is this damned obsession with whether or not people are going to like me.  It's the dumbest thing.  Because a large part of my resistance to grad school at the moment is knowing that I'm not going to be able to do this ("this" being both the papers I'm writing right now and also just the whole damn thing) the way I feel like they want/expect me to do it, which will result in me passing the classes but not really doing well.  Not measuring up.  Them being disappointed in me.  And a tiny little miserable part of me is thinking, "They won't like me."  Which is just plain old silly, but there it is. It results in me acting out of fear.

OK.  that's why I type this stuff out.  Because I know this one.  I've been here before.  Trying to chase that elusive goal of people liking me is exactly the way to ensure a fail.  If you're trying too hard, you're not being yourself.  and then neither you nor the people around you know who you are or what to do with you.  The key is to be yourself, to be yourself thoroughly, and then even if the situation doesn't work out, at least you know it's for the right reasons.  And you might just happen along the way to find people who really like you as you are.  Should not be phrasing this in 2nd person.  I need to relax about this and just do my thing.  Getting all knotted up in anxiousness is not helping in any possible way.  There's no point in approaching life like a clenched fist, dreading what might happen, anticipating the worst. 

*deep cleansing breath* :-)  OK.  I'm OK.  I'm going to just dig in and get it done.


  1. You need no more encouragement than to re-read the ending of this post. You ARE okay, and we WILL be later too.
    As a mother (not yours of course), this makes me very proud. (And as a sort of "special" woman, it does on that level as well.)
    Good Job! Gold Star for you today.

  2. The thing I love about the essays my art students write is their constitutional inability to live up to my expectations - they refuse to be boxed in.

    Nevertheless, the best of my students reintroduce me to my expectations (my requirements for the assignment) having turned them on their heads. Being yourself is being the strongest student you can be.

    And, you'll make a few of the best faculty members take a new look at things!!