February 4, 2014
So, there are several things I don’t particularly want to think about tonight as I put together this post and one thing in particular that has been spinning in my mind all day. regarding the most unusual process of obtaining a doctoral degree. The things I don’t want to think about I’ll just list in boring old bullets because if I don’t, they’ll just keep trying to come out as I write.
- losing another cohort member
- creating the course schedule aka my first massive task as a sr. AD
- upcoming AIGA conference where once more I feel like I’ll be coming out about DE to a group of very entrenched face-to-face-studio-only educators…all of whom I’m totally intimidated
- assignment 1 and those ridiculous research questions that have now reached epic fear status in my own head
- the fact that I didn’t practice piano enough this week and have a lesson in less then 24 hours
Whew….glad that’s out of my mind. And I can safely thrust those worries to the anonymous void that is the internet and see what happens.
So the one thing that has kept on coming back to my mind all day today which has to do with a doctoral journey on a macro level is this idea of “becoming.” When I tell people that I’m working on my doctorate and have just been promoted into a senior associate dean role, it seems that they inevitably are impressed and then immediately ask me how I manage to juggle my time and get it all done because clearly it must take a ton of time to lead a team and read intellectual stuff and write papers and do all the nebulous things that people think of when they’re just peering into your context and not actually there.
In all honesty, both tasks do take tremendous amounts of time and a “time drought” is something that I think I feel very acutely most days but…if you were to ask me right now what’s the hardest thing about my doctoral and sr. AD journey, it’s not the readings or the scheduling or even the team meetings and assignments (though I’m legit totally scared about the latter two) rather it’s me convincing myself that I can do it…that I am indeed becoming a doctoral student who has ideas that matter and that I am indeed becoming a department leader who has the ability to motivate and engage a team of peers to bring positive transformation to the lives of our students.
Seriously. The further I get in each of these endeavors the more I realize the hardest things for me aren’t reading and comprehension and keeping a calendar—rather it’s all inside of me stuff with this journey of growing into myself in these uncharted paths—kind of crazy and kind of scary and totally unexpected. Whenever I succeed at something there is a large part of me that feels like I’ve managed to get away with something…managed to trick people just enough and I must now madly tread water so that I don’t go under and get exposed. But I know that’s all lies because in reality, my success is backed by more hours of hard work than I can count and indeed on an ontological level (hahaa….a doctoral word that I think actually fits!)
I am actually changing and becoming something I never knew might be possible. Other people see it and affirm it and what I really now need to do is say yes and embrace who I am becoming and move into the beauty of that place rather than pass it all off as luck and remind everyone that I will probably, sooner than later, mess up and return to the safe space of mediocrity. I probably will mess up but none of us really finds safety in mediocrity, rather we find excuses for lives not lived and stories not told. It’s perverse really that insulating myself from failure or disappointment seems to come more natural than owning my own success and my own accomplishment and yet I don’t think I’m alone in my struggles.
So I guess moving forward, I want to be better about the process of becoming. I want to be as good at embracing process in my life as I am about embracing process in my creative work. And I want to believe the best about myself…that I can and actually am coming into this person who I never imagined might be possible but is indeed more and more real each day. And I want to consciously tell myself, “yes” and “you can” and indeed, “you are and just did” rather than “really???” or “yikes…close call!” because ultimately this is my story and crazy or insecure as it may feel at times, this is right where I need to be. It is real.