I meant to post this days ago, but then I was interrupted, and then I had my doubts that I should share it at all. Somehow that seems very appropriate.
There is a dull buzz in my head today. Its name is Anxiety. I am trying to tune it out and make it go away. I have work to do, but it keeps interrupting, whispering lies about me. I'll never be good enough, it says. I'm just a pretender, it jeers. No one will want to hire me, no one will want to publish my work, no one will believe me. Lies, every one.
Right now, I am scrambling to finish a paper that I could swear I've been working on forever. With each new set of edits I receive, I hope I have reached the end. But when I finish that next draft, I see there is so much more to do.
I am starting a new project. I hope that it works, and I fear that it will not. I fear that we will spend hours and days on something that turns out to be a dud. "We won't know unless we try," and "If it were guaranteed, someone would have done it already," I chant. If I say it enough times, perhaps my fragile hope will become firm belief. "This is worthwhile. This is worthwhile."
I have applied for jobs as a tenure-track professor. When I sent in my applications, I thought no one would want me without a post-doc, but I couldn't succeed if I didn't try and at the very least it would be worth the practice. I got an interview, and I am thrilled! And I am scared, and I am overwhelmed, and I want this to go right. So I am preparing and rehearsing and asking lots of questions, and it feels like cramming for a final in a class I didn't know I was taking.
I did not apply all over. I did not send out many applications at all. I chose only places that I would really want to work at, and jobs that I would really want to have. I know that this may mean I may not get any job, but my backup plans are forming backup plans. (Some of those may involve running away and joining the circus. Circuses need chemists, right?)
So I am writing, and working at the bench, and preparing for an interview. And I'm looking ahead at the coming months and there is Just. So. Much. Stuff. I have conferences to go to, a thesis to write, and there's vague outlines of other papers, and a defense, and graduation, and then? A nebulous blob of Unknown.
At times I feel like I've been flung into thin air:
When I can beat back the whispers of anxiety and impostor syndrome, I feel like I've just remembered how to breathe. And I remember that I am good at what I do, and that I am so very lucky to do something I love. So, stressed or not, I am going to make it through.
Because the knack to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss, after all, and in that process, interruptions might actually help.
GIF from What Should We Call Grad School