Positivity is not my strong suit. I’m a glass half empty, bird shit on the face, permanent bad day kinda gal. It is something I am trying to work on it, but struggle a bit when life throws me some curve balls. At the end of this week I have my 6 month review and determination of title for my PhD. I have been feeling pretty great about the work I have been able to do so far, but I am still a little nervous about presenting it to my supervisors and my new external chair. I still have a little doctoral program PTSD, and I am in a constant worry that I am going to screw up my chances here the way I screwed up in Fullerton.
I am starting to feel the effects of the fear in a big way.
I was hired to be the first educational pedagogy PhD at the university. Along with the PhD, I was going to run a university wide project to help update and improve the assessment and feedback practices of the degree granting programs. I thought I would be able to pull data from the project to use for my own research, and be able to do both tasks in well balanced harmony. Long story short, I was told that someone more senior than me needed to be in charge of the project, but as the resident TESTA expert, I would have a role to play in the project, and be there to offer guidance and support. I have strong feelings for the project and what can be done with a fresh approach to feedback, but my ego is also healthy enough to not have to be “the leader”. I understand the underlying politics that go along with a university-wide project, and my position as someone who is not quite an employee, but not quite a member of staff in the Department of Learning and Teaching Enhancement (I know, I work for a department called DOLT….when I started 6 months ago was ASPEN, which I was way more fond of). Now that the project is underway, it has become more apparent than ever that I do not have a strong presence yet on campus.
I have been trying to walk the fine line between standing up for what I want to do, and playing the political game. I am so traumatized with what happened at CSUF that I have almost become a doormat. I’m not being treated fairly, and because I am not trying to rock the boat, I have not been speaking up. In a meeting today, when I was disrespected in a room full of important people at the university, I didn’t correct the insult. I’m so afraid to make waves, so afraid that I am going to repeat the mistakes of last year, that I am in serious danger of becoming a doormat. Finding the right balance is hard, and trying not to equate this program with the program from hell is even harder.
Luckily I have some amazing friends who let me talk out out my feelings, a manpanion who celebrated my victories with me, and a mommy who is not afraid to give me a gentle kick in the ass to get off the floor and stand up for myself. I’m really the luckiest girl in the world. It is nice to be reminded of that when I am trying to stay out of the dark and twisty.