T: Amazing Husband ST: Three-year-old Wonder Prof. G: Advisor I Prof. C: Advisor II Julie: Stylish Sister Rob: Awesome Brother Belle: Our Cat Bill: Grumbling BIL Rita: Uncomplicated SIL SMU: Smallish Midwestern University Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
Drop Me A Line
academeblog AT gmail.com
Quote of the Day
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Crisis of Confidence
I received an email from Small Dream College today, informing me that my application was complete and that they would start reviewing applications next week. As I was about to delete the message, I noticed that the administrative assistant had included the names of every applicant at the top of the email – all of the email addresses (and, hence, the institutions) of my competitors. I then did something I should never have done: I picked out a few and looked them up, just to see what they were working on. What a stupid thing to do.
I looked at a few that were outsiders – people who applied for this job, but whose expertise was only tangentially related to the posting. I am not worried about those people so much, because I know that this particular department has a specific type of person in mind – namely, someone who does something like what I do. But then I glanced through the websites of a few others and… wow. There are some extremely intelligent people working in my field and sub-field. People who are highly decorated and published. People who are a million times more qualified than I am.
Ever since I did that, I’ve been feeling pretty low. I’m having a crisis of confidence of epic proportions. Today was my day home with ST (he’s not in daycare on Wednesdays), and I was literally fighting back tears while I was making his lunch. I just looked at him and thought to myself, “Look at this brilliant little child, born to an ignorant mother.” Ugh. I hate these days, because they are the kind of day where I feel like throwing in the towel – giving up. I have felt this way before. In fact, I think graduate school is really about moving from one crisis of confidence to another, and making it out alive at the end.
My first crisis came at the beginning of my first year, when I was completely overwhelmed by the demands of my program and feeling like the stupidest person in every class. Another crisis came when I was pregnant and coping with the first of my comprehensive exams, trying desperately to remember details from classes I’d had three years before. Yet another crisis: the prospectus. My prospectus took me a LONG time to write – partially because my advisor made me write a zillion drafts, and partially because, at one point, I tossed my dissertation topic out and was searching in vain for another. (I eventually went back to the first one, with some methodological alterations.) The most recent crisis was when I turned in my third chapter to my advisors and neither of them liked it, but that was short-lived because I was able to turn in another draft in just a few days, which both advisors liked a lot. That brings me to the present crisis: feeling like, in all of my years in graduate school, I haven’t done anything spectacular. Nothing that makes me stand out from a horde of other candidates.
I’m not sure what will bring me out of this crisis. What is the worst about this is that yesterday, when I mailed off four job applications, I was feeling very positive about myself and my work. Now I just feel inadequate. And I don’t like it.