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.
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!