Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: Under Pressure

I was on top of the world when I checked in on Monday, and for good reason: I had enjoyed an absolutely fantastic weekend away, and I was buoyed up by all of the good vibes and happiness that had been sent my way. Everything was grand for a few days… and then around Wednesday, panic set in.

Source: Pinterest

Like so many of you, I have a vast to-do list of things that absolutely must get done, and what sucks is that my biggest priorities have nothing to do with writing. I have a conference paper proposal due next week, along with the oral defense for my thesis and the regular load of 60-70 papers to grade. Add on everything else that I’d rather be doing (writing flash fiction and blog posts, visiting everyone else’s blogs, working on my WIPs, tweeting, reading books, watching movies and eating Cheetoes), and I basically need, oh, an extra 24 hours in a day to accomplish everything.

The anxiety and panic are physically paralyzing, to the point where I end up with fierce migraines and nausea. I sit down to tackle something on the to-do list, and I get so overwhelmed at the thought of everything else that I should be doing that I can’t do anything at all.

The thing is, I know much of this is self-inflicted. I am capable of finishing everything that I have on my plate. As so many of you have pointed out, I’ve lived with this thesis long enough that I know it inside and out. A 5-10 minute presentation, and the conversation that will follow with my committee, really shouldn’t be challenging. The conference paper proposal is only a short abstract, again one that is based on the work that I’ve already been doing. And the blog posts and social media are fun, nothing that should be giving me heart palpitations and sweaty palms.

So much of my problems stem from self-doubt and fear — fear that I won’t be good enough, that I’ll crash and burn in a spectacular display of epic failure, that I’ll embarrass myself (and my advisor) with my sheer incompetence.

All of this has started me to thinking over the last few days, and the question that reoccurs in my mind is one that is startlingly simple, yet also challenging: How much would I get done if I just abandoned self-doubt? I’m not talking about embarking on projects armed with hubris and arrogance. Rather, I’m thinking about approaching all areas of my life with the confidence that I am equipped and prepared to tackle any challenges that come my way. In my heart of hearts, I feel like I know more than I give myself credit for, and those things that I don’t know can be learned.

Perhaps this is one of those overarching goals that I can try to adopt for the remainder of this round: Abandon self-doubt. It’s not something that can really be measured directly, unless we’re talking about potential decreases in panic attacks, but I’d like to strive towards it all the same.

Here’s the short list of what I did get done this week:

Writing: Not too much happened here. I have ideas that are demanding to be released, and I am dying to just sit down and allow them to run free. This will maybe-hopefully happen this weekend.

Day Job: Met with my advisor on Thursday and started hammering out the next year of my life, including the directed study I’ll be taking with her next quarter, a list of the grants and fellowships I plan to apply for this fall, and plans to work as her research assistant next school year. There was also chatter about co-writing an article based on my thesis, and brainstorming potential syllabi I’ll want to have under my belt when I hit the job market in a couple of years. Overwhelming, but exciting.

Exercise: I squeezed in 4 days this week, even though 3 of those days were 15 minute stints on the glider, rather than the 30 minutes that I usually do. But I figure it’s better for me to at least move a little instead of sit around for days at a time.

Social Time: Surprisingly, there is lots of this happening — an impromptu girls’ night out on Monday, a birthday celebration for a colleague Thursday night, and a mock bachelorette party on Saturday night (it’s for Science, people, a sociological study of whether or not one of my single friends can “pass” as an engaged woman — long story).

50/50 Challenge: I haven’t had a chance to do any reading, but I finally saw Midnight in Paris, and I am in LOVE. So many people told me to watch it, and I’m delighted that I finally got the chance. As someone who has always felt like I was born in the wrong era, the movie resonated with me, and made me miss Paris all the more. I highly recommend it.

For anyone else who is feeling ridiculously overwhelmed, I dedicate the following song. Turn up the volume and dance it out, ’cause there’s nothing like a little Queen and David Bowie to make the world a better place. 😀

Be sure to swing by and send warm fuzzies to all the other ROW80 participants!

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37 Comments

  1. Ahhh, the post travel high… (I had it, too.) Sounds like your load is so bountiful…. wow. I am invigorated reading about it and your “wish I could be doing this instead” is vaguely familiar. At least you get to be busy in a gorgeous area.

    Always happy to read your updates, Lena – hope to hang out with our other buddies from #teamsprinty this week! Hugs!!
    Julie Jordan Scott recently posted..February 26 #ROW80 Check In ~ Nitty Gritty Down & Dirty Telling on MyselfMy Profile

    • Such a good point, Julie — I really am lucky and blessed to be in such an amazing part of the world. I’ve been trying to remind myself of that each day when I’m driving to and from campus. 😀

      I’m looking forward to some #teamsprinty good times this week as well! I got swamped Thursday and Friday, and I’m definitely feeling like I’m in withdrawal.

      Have a wonderful week, my friend!

  2. All right, my friend…BREATHE. Do one thing, just to feel better. Any thing.

    Here is my pep talk for you, which I know to be 100% true:

    You will kick ass on your thesis. You’ll get those papers graded and some of them will make you smile. You will get to all our blogs when you have time. You will continue to do your best. Your best will be good enough for everybody.
    Jenny Hansen recently posted..A New Definition of FluffyMy Profile

  3. p.s. FANTASTIC video! I’d never seen that iteration of the song. 🙂
    Jenny Hansen recently posted..Triberr Part 5: The Boneyard and Other Tribe-y Hot SpotsMy Profile

    • Omg, isn’t it amazing? It’s the one posted by the official Queen youtube account, too. It’s a different mix from the one that I always hear on the radio, but it’s so awesome.

  4. Bravery has been my own big concern, so I can so sympathize with your situation, Lena. But really, you’ve accomplished a lot already. You haven’t accomplished everything you’ve set out for yourself, but you will. You will.

    • Eden, thank you so much! I really do feel like the bravery thing is just going to be this lifelong battle that I will always be waging. But you are right — stuff is getting done, even if I feel like it isn’t. I really appreciate the support!

  5. If you can do NaNo, you can grade those papers, prepare for your thesis defense and all the other things on your plate. You go Lena and we’ll be here to help you catch up with what’s happened on social media when you get back and your writing will be waiting for you. 🙂
    Nicole Basaraba recently posted..For the love of Oscar and ROW80My Profile

    • Oh man, such a good point! NaNo really is a crazy sort of accomplishment. I suppose I should just suck it up, sit my bum down in my chair, and get going with things. 😀

  6. Today I decided to make ROW80 only about my writing. I separated my other personal goals from the project. I’m expecting to gain a bit of clarity and division, and the number of things I could “fail” have gone from 4 to 2…

    My writing habits have been bad in the past because I cram in regular, lifestyle goals… I’m hoping this separation makes me take it more seriously and returns the motivation I lost.
    Audrey Tomorrow recently posted..{goals} you again…My Profile

    • Good luck with this, Audrey! I can definitely see how adding in other personal goals can interfere with the writing, and when that needs to be the priority, it’s an excellent idea to return it to the top of the list.

  7. “How much could I accomplish if I just abandoned self-doubt?” – Everything.

    You have all the keys in place. Where I’m noticing the hang up is that when doing one task you are considering everything else that is waiting. Been there. Focus on the task in hand and don’t worry about the rest and you’ll find that each task moves along faster and with less stress. And, of course, shed the self-doubt. Look, every writer, every human has it at times – I know I go through at least one point of self-doubt every day – acknowledge it, smile and go back to work. Stick with your priorities and then when you come to that moment when they are all met – well, then the Cheetoe’s are waiting *smile*

    Trust yourself, Lena – you are a brilliant and capable woman. Have a great week 🙂
    Gene Lempp recently posted..ROWtips Update 2-26My Profile

    • Gene, you’ve got it exactly right (as usual!). It’s such a yucky cycle, too, stressing over everything that isn’t getting done at the immediate moment and then getting nothing done. But today is a new day, and I think I can at least get one major thing crossed off the list!

      Thank you as always, my friend!

  8. Oh, man, my friend–I can so totally relate! Banish self-doubt? What a wonderful goal. I have been trying for the past few months to be mindful of the negative self-talk. I’ve progressed to where I can now cut it off mid-stream a little more than 50% of the time, chasing it with an affirmation that I am brave, strong, and have been in worse situations.

    Gene has a great point, which I will shamelessly steal. I let my peripheral vision get in the way far too often, with depressing results. Focus will be my new mantra.

    You are amazing, Lena–you’re my role model!
    Elizabeth Anne Mitchell recently posted..British bride WIP excerpt, playing with POVMy Profile

    • Elizabeth, I totally knew you would understand this. I’ve been trying so darn hard to keep up the mantras and the positive self-affirmations. I say we put up our blinders while we’re trying to tackle each goal, and let our vision wander later on in the day, once we’ve gotten a few things done. 😀

      Have a wonderful week!

  9. A good friend told me to : do what you can to be fully prepared, and just do it.
    That’s all you can do sometimes. And I think it’s important to give yourself permission to not be doing something on your list. There is a certain beauty to taking a half-day and just curling up with a book to read. I used to follow an insane schedule. And while I definitely filled each day – I can’t say I was happy.

    Also – focus on what you did get done, and less on what you didn’t. That’s why there’s tomorrow 🙂 Now take some time and read, write, play, and dream! *hugs*

    • I love the idea of giving myself permission to do something that’s not on the list. I’ve been trying to reserve evenings for something mindless — a movie, or a video game, or reading a good book.

      Hugs back, my dear! Thank you so much!

  10. I didn’t get *anything* done this week, except for the writing (and that was easy)! I think sometimes, we look at our huge to-do lists, and even though we *could* do everything on them, it’s just overwhelming. At that point, I just go play computer games. So I’m trying an experiment this week of limiting my list to no more than four things an evening – one of which must be writing, and one of which must be exercise. I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully on your presentation – good luck!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..ROW80: Giving up The To-Do List for LentMy Profile

    • Limiting what you do in an evening (and making sure that writing and exercise are there!) is a great idea. I’m trying to tell myself that a little exercise is something that just HAS to get done each day, and I might see if I can squeeze writing in there too. I’ve been using my writing sprints to grade, and I’ve gone almost 3 days without writing anything… and wow, I’m cranky. 😛

      Thanks so much for the advice, Jennette!

  11. You have so much on your plate, but you know you can do this. You’ve done it before, and you know your thesis inside out. Defending it will be easy after spending so much time writing it.

    Totally hear you on the self-doubt thing, and figuring out how to get rid of it for good is tough. I think you just have to focus on the things you KNOW you can do and take them each one at a time. Good luck!
    Stacy Green recently posted..Row80 Check-In Admitting Defeat and ResettingMy Profile

  12. I think you really hit on something with the idea of releasing self doubt! That is something we all have to work on. We waste so much time worry about all the ways we might fail that we don’t actually move forward. You’ve really got me thinking, now.
    Emma Burcart recently posted..Looks Are Important, Too!My Profile

  13. self doubt is a given uless you’re an arrogant B******! and none of us like those:)its what hone our performance use it to produce results – you know you can just beleive in self
    alberta ross recently posted..safe from drowning:)My Profile

  14. Lena, I am sending you a great big *cyber hug* right this minute!

    Here’s the thing. I think what you aren’t seeing is how much you are getting done! I can’t tell you how much I respect what you’re doing Lena and you are making great strides in your career. You are going to KILL on that thesis Lena. I know as the date approaches it will seem daunting. But ever since I met you I know that deep inside you are so very capable of making it happen. And I have no doubts. If you need a pep talk before hand, come get me and I promise I will be there for you.

    You ARE Rocking the Row Lena! We all see it! It’s true! 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..ROW80: Alive and Kicking!My Profile

  15. Lena, you’re a complete rock star! I’m sure you have everything detailed and prioritized on a to-do list outside your brain, and I’m going to tell you what I (fellow overachiever) do when panic sets in. Tackle the item that is stressing you out most. You should be able to find it in bold, all caps, at the top of your to-do list. Set everything else completely to the side and dive in through the panic. You’ll accomplish a lot, and each time you do it, you prove to yourself how much you can do.
    J.R. Pearse Nelson recently posted..Sunday Update: Story Excitement & Spring CallingMy Profile

  16. Girl, I absolutely hear you. I struggle staying focused on one task at a time and not allowing my to-do list to overwhelm me. I love your new mantra to: Abandon self-doubt. Here here…Amen…I’ll be right there with you.
    Your perseverance, determination, and dedication will always see you through so here’s to focusing on one thing at a time and checking things off the list and feeding your confidence cause…we all know you ROCK!
    Natalie Hartford recently posted..ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #16My Profile

  17. Got this link from Gene Lempp’s ROW80 post and thought of you immediately!
    http://janefriedman.com/2011/10/21/secret-for-battling-procrastination/
    Natalie Hartford recently posted..ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #16My Profile

  18. Wow I can hear the panic from here! Yep, been there, done that…have several t-shirts. Breathe….breathe….breathe…..one more….breatheeeeeee……and now, pick one thing. And do it. Just one. Ignore the rest. Yes you can, ignoring is easy! focus focus focus….and voila! One thing done and off the list. It’s baby steps that gets the job done. Hang in there! You got this, you do. One step at a time. One sip at a time. One bite at a time. With a LOT of breathing in between!
    Melinda recently posted..Row80 Update-Overload, but in a good way!My Profile

  19. Abandon self doubt! So simple, so hard to do.

    Baby girl, you are going to totally rock your presentation. Like you said, you know it forwards and back, so don’t freak yourself out, because you are AMAZING!

    Breathe.

    Sending good vibes for a stress-free week.
    Tameri Etherton recently posted..Kickass Heroines ~ Danielle from ‘Ever After’My Profile

  20. Hang in there Lena- I understand the panic congrats on getting anything done! I try to breath long slow deep breaths when that happens. So good luck and if you manage to abandon self doubt please tell us how!

  21. Lena, kick that self-doubt monster in the hinny. You are awesome and so capable of accomplishing everything that’s important to you. Go, Lena!
    Sheila Seabrook recently posted..I’d Rather Buy Books …My Profile

  22. First, thanks for the video – love this mix 🙂

    You seem to have got plenty done this week in spite of your self-doubt, so give yourself credit for what you did. This probably won’t help, but if I get in a real state about things I have to do I ask myself, “if this doesn’t get done, will me or anyone I love die or go to prison?” It’s surprising how much better you feel afterwards. (Assuming the answer is no of course!)
    Sarah Pearson recently posted..Musical Stories 29: HorrorMy Profile

  23. Love your question about how much you would get done if you abandoned self doubt. That is exactly it, isn’t it???

    I’m using that idea to fuel my writing week! I hope you are feeling less suspended in things to get done, and feeling more energetic toward attacking them!!

    Good luck this week!
    Heather Kelly recently posted..Monday Meeting: Blue about Missing You, and Looking for Conference AdviceMy Profile

  24. Yes. Abandon that self-doubt. It’s a liar, through and through.

    When I get overwhelmed, I become a list maker…in a bad way. I set the thing that immediately needs done aside, and then make a list of everything that WON’T get done while I’m doing it…and then let that list stare at me with its beady little eyes while I try to get the most important thing done. Not effective, in any way. But it’s a ridiculously hard habit to break.

    I’m 100% confident you’ll come through all of this looking and feeling like the rockstar/goddess/lovelydiva you are, sweet girl. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other!
    Myndi Shafer recently posted..Q&A: Alica McKenna JohnsonMy Profile

  25. It’s been almost thirty years but I remember my thesis defense. All your knowledge, all your hard work will take over and you’ll discuss with an open heart. It happens, really. Self-doubt fades always in the presence of an open heart, which you obviously have, but it takes a little time. I’m excited for you.
    Karen

  26. Love the video! Play it every morning while you’re brushing your teeth and looking at the ABANDON SELF-DOUBT post-it on the mirror … well it could be a huge banner, but I didn’t know how large the mirror is … Seriously, after reading your post in August’s “Beauty” blogfest, I know you will be successful at accomplishing everything you wish to do. Your words still resonate with me.

  27. I hope your week is getting better by now!
    Jon recently posted..Stuff I’ve Been Consuming 2My Profile

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