Feel Your Way Thru, When You Can’t Think Your Way Out: Advice from a Classic Overachiever

2 Sep

When it comes to emotional intelligence, I’m far from gifted. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do feelings. I find particular safety in the realm of the cerebral, detached analytic. No, it’s not healthy. Yes, I’m working on it. Especially lately, since feelings and emotions seem  to be getting in the way of my to do list, my progress, and my goals.

If you can’t tell, I’m a classic overachiever. A person for whom rest and self-care are a nuisance and a burden, in the face of big dreams and occasional visions of grandeur.  But this classic ovearchiever awoke this morning (and truth be told, went to bed last night) with an unforgiving to-do list, a stressed out spirit, and an acute sense that I have nothing tangible to show for the last few months of research, blogging, self-care, and joy that I deliberately allowed myself all summer.  (And it’s only September.) Lack of tangible results and rewards are an overachiever’s worst nightmare.

In the publish or perish, do or die world of academia, everything seems critical. Like graduate school, the prospect of failure seems acute.  And no one tells young academics that the struggles with confidence don’t immediately go away. That same nagging sense one had in graduate school that you don’t know enough, haven’t read enough, and are generally a fraud, re-emerges even once you’ve gotten the degree, and often at the most inopportune times. The VOICE says, “you don’t have anything new to say, nothing insightful to offer (at least not for the length of an article or a book), and what you have said is at best unimpressive.” When one adds sometimes shaky confidence to the high-stress, high expectation world of academia, you’ve got a recipe for an overly-stressed out Sister. I probably need a hug, but I don’t do those either, :).

What my years of detachment have taught me though is that even when it doesn’t always feel okay, at the end of the day, it will probably be okay. And it is in that context, that I’m taking the courage to feel my way through it, since for all my powers of reasoning last night, I couldn’t think my way out of it.

Truth be told, I wish I had something funny, insightful, or otherwise critical to say about it all today. But as I stare down the barrel of the infamous to-do list, throwing my hands up and surrendering to it, doesn’t really seem like the pathway to freedom.  Which means there is no other choice but to get back to the grind. But I know I’m not the only young sister scholar out there who feels overwhelmed and in serious need of a personal assistant (and a maintenance man). So I guess this post is a just a simple call to let you know, that you are not the only one.

We’ll get through it together.

3 Responses to “Feel Your Way Thru, When You Can’t Think Your Way Out: Advice from a Classic Overachiever”

  1. Carolyn September 3, 2010 at 2:23 AM #

    Even though you don’t do them, I’m sending you a cyber hug anyway! I’ve been where you are, and sometimes just knowing that people care is enough to get through the funk. Take care of yourself!

  2. Rae September 3, 2010 at 6:23 AM #

    I really appreciate this post. I can relate. I hesitate to post on such personal insights in the blogosphere but your posts are encouraging me to be brave, be bold, and let go of public opinion.

    I think as a woman and especially as a woman of color academic, we are “trained” to lose touch with our instincts. The first year grad experience is often a hazing process that hits you with big words, teqches you to attack and question, and pulls at your understanding of the world from what you’ve learned by doing. At least this was my experience.

    I also make too big of a to do over a to-do list. I try to focus on daily tasks and get to the bigger projects on bigger timelines, but I haven’t yet figured out how to let go of the day to day stress of unfinished bigness.

    Hugs do help… Virtual and real. & I do love to give you both.

    Word by word, sentence by sentence,maple by page, essay by essay, book by book… We can do it!

  3. BellaAnais September 3, 2010 at 11:38 PM #

    I also have to say that I really appreciate this post. I respect your honesty and your search for optimism even when faced with the daunting realities of never-ending deadlines, expectations and the like. It helps to know this is not a battle any of us are fighting alone. And yes in the end, it will be okay. Thanks again

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