Thursday, October 06, 2011

in which I start out discouraged and move back to normal

I've had several demoralizing things happen in a row.  I just don't know if I'm cut out for this grad school stuff.  I've been hanging out with literary types today due to volunteering at a literary conference that's going on in UTown.  I'm completely intimidated and discouraged.  I feel like the country bumpkin trying to hang out with the sophisticated people.  I don't know the right words, I don't know how to make their kind of jokes, I can't imagine this is going to end well.

But they let me in, and I'm not quitting, so I suppose there's nothing to do but just keep going.  It's funny, I hit this point every semester, and every semester I end up doing fine.  But it doesn't change the feeling-- I just don't have the gloss of intellectualism that you need to have to survive in academia.  That's why even though I've started practically handing out my blog address on the street corner, I haven't given it to anyone connected with my master's program.  Because the stuff I go on and on about here is so not the kind of stuff that would cut it in the academic world.  So they don't need to know.

So fuck it.  (excuse my language.)

I started this post sitting at one of the public computers in the lobby of the hotel where the conference is being held.  I wasn't exactly crying, but I was sort of leaking if you know what I mean.  My turn at the registration table was over, so I left and went and got a chocolate milkshake and a cheeseburger (strictly verboten on my low-fat diet, but ohmylord did I need comfort food).  Then I checked into the hotel where I'm staying so I can be back at the registration table at 8 a.m. tomorrow and took a half hour nap.  Between the comfort food and the rest and a couple of e-mails from people who had no idea what was going on but who were supportive of me anyway, I'm feeling better again.

The thing I regret is that there are a few people in the program whom I really like and admire, and I want them to admire me back.  And maybe they will, but just in a different way than you admire academic people.  And now that I'm pulling myself out of my funk, I think they do like me.  None of them can believe I'm doing this "at my age" and with the commute I have to do.  It takes guts of some sort, if not the academic kind.

There have been a couple of posts in the Bettyverse recently about self-confidence.  They've got me thinking.  You may have noticed that I don't have very much.  I'm working on that, but my goal isn't to be the kind of self-confident that is utterly sure of how great I am and of my own opinions.  I know a few people like that, and although they make admirable heroes, they aren't people I feel close to.  I just want to figure out how to value my own kind of self-ness, my own unique brand of being.  I have a long history of aspiring to believe or act in ways that don't suit me.  I'm working on that, too.

good grief, I'm practically sobbing into my coffee cup here.  (which, if I meant it other than metaphorically, would be decaffeinated, of course).

On a sort-of sideways related note:  although I've never been a huge fan of apple products (besides my iPod, to which I am utterly devoted), I am sad that Steve Jobs is gone from the world.  In reading about him today, I ran across the commencement address he gave at Stanford in 2005.  There is both a text and a video version here.  It's long, but it's worth it.  Or if you want a shortened version of it, the highlights are here.


  1. You should be VERY proud of yourself. This is a really big damn deal and you are doing it!
    Stand strong, say "Fuck it!" with confidence, and be the best YOU you can be right now. Who could ask for more than that?

  2. Let me say first off that I TOTALLY know what it feels like to have little self-confidence. Oh do I know. I have struggled with it all my life. I STILL struggle with it. It is a bitch. And sometimes you just have to say "Fuck it!" (which happens to be my favorite phrase, don't tell my mother) I am a person eminently worth liking. I have intelligence. I have opinions that are worth repeating. I am skilled in what I want to do. I am who I am and I like myself. Then you go on, have a big helping of restorative chocolate and take the next step.

    Getting off the soap box now.

  3. You know, it is the most amazing thing in the world to have supportive girlfriends. Thanks, both of you. Thanks for that e-mail, Julie. And Debbie, I would never have guessed that "Fuck it" is in your repertoire! I won't tell your mom if you don't tell mine. :-)

  4. I missed this when it first came out. You know, I bet they really do like you. Why? Because you're likable besides being big-time smart.
    Once there were a couple of women coworkers that I decided didn't like or respect me. I thought that for years. Then one day we had a random conversation and they said some things that made me know, I had misread how they felt about me for years.
    People are rarely thinking what we think they're thinking.

  5. you know, Judy, that is a good point. I've had the same experience, where I assume I know what someone is thinking about me and I'm wrong. (Usually they're not thinking about me at all.) but I think I do project my own insecurities out onto other people and assume that they won't/can't like me. It's great to be neurotic.