07 May 2008

Anxiety

So. I suppose this blog won’t help me much if I don’t use it. Funny how that works.

Yesterday was not good. Well, at least not in the moment. On Monday I finally sent a couple of those emails I was supposed to send a week ago. But I’m not going to dwell on when I was supposed to send them, as that usually gets me down on myself. So I sent them on Monday. And one of the professors actually responded the same day, offering to meet with me on Tuesday morning. For a variety of reasons I was hesitant to talk to him—I’ve never had a class from him; he’s always struck me as a bit distant; one of my other committee members seemed to have reservations about him; and of course all of my usual self-doubt which leaves me feeling incompetent. So I procrastinated all morning, lazing around in bed surfing the web rather than reviewing my lists and prepping for the meeting.

By the time I left home, I was feeling panicky. Anxious over the quality of the project and how it would be received by someone who didn’t know me and already like me. I was actually in tears before I left, thinking the worst of myself and my abilities, sure that what I can do just isn’t good enough. I knew I couldn’t walk into a professor’s office in tears. Fortunately I also know that J(wh) can usually talk me through my anxiety. So I called him and we talked as I drove. He made me articulate what I hoped to achieve with this meeting. I talked through the theoretical points of my project and avenues I’m trying to explore to enhance those theoretical interests. And I took the time to get control of my breathing. By the time I got to the professor’s office I was much calmer.

Which is a very good thing. Because after I summed up my project and explained what I needed help with, the professor’s first order of business was to understand my background in the program. And when he heard I was approaching the end of my fourth year enrolled, his immediate response was to tell me I would run out of teaching support if I didn’t pass my exams by the end of my 12th quarter. Which surprised me. And threw me into a new panic because funding is one of my perpetual sources of anxiety and stress. If J(wh) hadn’t helped me talk through my previous anxiety, I think I would have broken down into tears on the spot. Fortunately I kept it together, though not well enough to realize I’ve only had ten quarters of teaching support so I’m actually still on track for the schedule I’d set for myself (completing exams before the end of Winter 2009).

The meeting ended up being primarily useful in terms of very practical advice about timing and committee formation and meetings, etc. And a promise to review my lists and make suggestions. After I calmed myself down a bit, I realized that I still had enough time to get my exams done while funded. And I called J(wh) and he talked me through my second bout of anxiety for the morning. All of which made me realize how very important it is that instead of fearing what I don’t know and so avoiding knowing it, I need to just find out what the reality is. Even if the reality is bad, at least I’ll know it rather than fearing the unknown. And I can only solve known problems. I know that sounds simple—like something I should just understand. But sometimes the simple things are the hardest to deal with.

1 comment:

your fan said...

Yay for you! And you're so right, it's overwhelming to contemplate all the unknowns, and you can't do anything about those, but you can work on the knowns. Thank goodness you have such a supportive person to lean on - everyone needs one of those, to talk you up or down as needed.

So, what's your next step? I'm eagerly awaiting to see.