Friday, March 03, 2006

Being Brave

My new best friend (hi, K8! Oh, you didn't sign on for that? Okay, my bad.) has a good post from last night (still no html experience, so that would be 3/2/06, last-ish entry) about what a nice day she had doing work.
I wish I could say the same.
For approximately two years, I've been stalled. It took me forever to get my masters paper cranked out, so now I've stuck myself in the unenviable position of trying to finish quals and dissertation in one year. The quals are three papers; they should be easy-ish, but I'm scared to death of them. I'm not an easy writer. Even in undergraduate, which was years & years before I came to graduate school, I avoided all the "paper" classes. Of course there were requirements; I took those my first year & got terrible grades in them, which lead to the avoidence. Now I have to write things, and I don't know how. My fellow students talk about knocking out a 10-page paper, which to me is still the enormous paper that it was my freshman year in _high school_. Yes, I get too worked up about things.
And then there's the actual work. The programming and collecting data and talking to people and...
You might ask what I'm doing here if I don't like it. Well, I thought I wanted to be a professor -- the teaching kind, because I didn't know that they were second-class citizens in the academic hierarchy. I loved my professors in undergrad, which is a liberal arts college. They were fully involved in imparting their love of their work to students. I wanted to be one of them, having a great job where you had a good time. Even at the time, I didn't think they had an easy job; it never would have occurred to me to assume they had summers off, because I knew they also did their own research. But they enjoyed themselves, which is something my parents never seemed to do.
And now I'm here, and I don't know what I'm doing. Why am I avoiding this? I could get it done. The biggest hold up would be the data collection, but if I put my mind to it, I could knock out those quals in two or three months, while getting the program up and running. Then I'd just have to wait for the subjects. Meanwhile, I'd could write up the masters for publication, and... It'd be hard, but it wouldn't be impossible, even given my time constraints. And I do like the feeling of success.
So what's my problem?


Blogger Kate said...

Hey you! Glad to be your new best friend ;).

I spent a good year being paralyzed by work before I got to the point I am at now, where I'm more or less happy doing the work I'm doing. It took forcing myself to write a really crappy paper and get it out of the mess of my brain... which then unparalyzed me and allowed me to write, very quickly, three much better papers. But I had to write the crappy one and send it off to my advisor and to journals (only to be rejected more than once, by the way) before I could really get it in my head that I was an academic. I can submit manuscripts for publication. I am a colleague, not just a little student.

I am now at another bit of a block. Not a bad one, but just not wanting to edit a paper (the same rejected first one). But I've managed to stay productive and revisit it as often as I can bring myself to.

9:31 PM EST  

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