Recognizing my Obstacles

The other day, after two peopled “liked” my inspiration blog post, I decided to make my friends and colleagues aware of my blog’s existence. So, I shared it on Facebook. About 15 seconds later, my anxiety started climbing and I was starting to regret my decision. Not because any of my friends and colleagues said anything discouraging, or anything like that, but because no that meant that this was for real. Now I really had to do this thing. And if I fail, everyone will know.

Of course, that’s kind of the point. We spend so much time as academics focusing on our own and others’ success (which is good) that it is easy to forget that failure is not only more common than success, it is also okay. For example, I always happily share when an article is accepted for publication, but I never share when one is rejected, because… well, because like many academics I have Impostor Syndrome: This article rejection is living proof that I Really Am A Fraud and Nobody but the Anonymous Reviewers Know It But They Will If They Have Enough Time. Seriously! I have great friends who are lucky enough not to suffer from this horrible “syndrome,” but I know many more people who do, and when I don’t talk about my failures, I too continue to give off an image of unblemished success because I have a fear that if I show my imperfections everyone will see me for the fraud I am.

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Screw that. I really want to do this. I NEED to do this. But if I don’t succeed in actually writing this book (or getting tenure, for that matter) at least it will be a living testimony out there to someone else who maybe struggles with the same things I do. And maybe it will help me get over myself enough to recognize my limitations and my own worth, regardless of my limitations.

Soon enough, I am going to create a list of strategies and tactics for writing my book. Before I do that, I want to make an inventory of my obstacles, so that I can start thinking about how I am going to address them.

In 2013, I will be:

  • Teaching a full load, one in a new format, one a completely new prep.
  • Submitting one (or more) grant proposals.
  • Coding/Transcribing research from the summer (that is going into the book).
  • Going through my first big evaluation process (very time consuming, it’s like creating a tenure file).
  • Working on other writing projects, particularly a cluster a colleague and I are submitting in the next couple of weeks and an article that I haven’t started to revise and that I wanted to see submitted by the end of 2012 (we’ll see, but it’s really not looking good).
  • Adapting the strategies of a book written for writing articles to writing a multiple-chapter book.
  • Creating a writing schedule and sticking with it.
  • (The biggest, scariest one!) The fact that I will be spending an as-yet-to-be-determined period of time this summer (anywhere from 1.5 to 3 months) doing a new ethnographic project, which means that “writing my book in 12 months” really means “writing my book in 9-10.5 months.”

I do think I have a working title, though 🙂 : “Becoming Mentally Ill: The Psychiatric Hospital in Southwestern Mexico.”

Next Up: Overcoming my Obstacles

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