The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 26

It is July.

Seriously. July. I survived the month from hell, became an official PhD student, and made it out of Scotland for a quick jaunt into the world of academic presentations.

I’m not sure I was entirely successful.

I turned in a report last week to justify my becoming a PhD student. It took me two and half weeks to write, and I was terrified the entire time. I had a really hard time putting into words why my work is significant and what made me a good candidate for the transfer of title. It really freaked me out. If I cannot explain what I am doing and why it is important, then why should the university move me on?

Which led to a whole host of other problems. If I do not get to advance and complete the degree, then it is back to the land of Trump and Hilary. A land where I have no job, no money, no insurance, and more importantly, no identity. I cannot go back there.

A rather large problem that I have navigating life is that I tie my entire self worth to the things that I produce. I saw this report as an extension of me. If my supervisors don’t like the report then it means they do not like me. I know that this is absurd. I know this, I write about this in terms of students and the feedback they receive, yet I can’t help but be stuck in that quicksand.

The report was just as bad as I thought it would be. My supervisors ripped it apart. They told me as it was, the report would not pass the committee. I had spent so much time being crippled by self doubt and the impostor syndrome, that I produced a really shitty report. I missed a few typos, the report seemed rushed, and I misinterpreted a  question. It was bad. While the team signed off on me becoming a PhD student once I edit and do some heavy revision, I still cannot look past how defeated I feel. I can’t help but think that I am a huge disappointment to my supervisors. None of what I have turned in so far as been good quality work. I’m not a bad writer. I know that. I usually enjoy writing. Lately I have not been enjoying myself. I’ve been stressed. I’m worried what people will think when they read my work, wonder if I have done enough to show that I am worthy of all the things that I have been given in the last year.

I’m also trying to live up to the pressure that my position brings. I’m the first education based PhD, the first one based out of the Department of Learning and Teaching, and I am the living example of why pedagogy is important to a university. With great power comes great responsibility….and a supervisor who is incredibly hard on me, and expects a whole hell of a lot from me. Unfortunately right now I have hit my breaking point. I am a bit burned out.

Luckily I have people around me who believe in me, and a couple who have gone through the process. They talk me off a ledge, send me goats through the mail, and remind me that I am not defined by the drafts that I produce.

This week I had the opportunity to present my paper at an assessment and feedback conference. Last year I got to go to the conference as my introduction to the university and to the role that I was soon to play. I heard a lot of good talks, met some interesting people, and saw a little bit of England. This time around I got to give a 3 minute presentation to a room full of experts in the field. I knew a few people who were there, and I got to sit between two men that I reference in my paper. It was brilliant.

My presentation…..not so much. I went first, and seeing as this was the fist time that the conference had ever done these nano presentations, I was once again the guinea pig. My paper is based around a food metaphor (and I don’t want to give it away yet since it is not complete, and has not been published), but no one laughed at my jokes, and no one asked any questions or had any comments for me. The other seven presenters all had questions and comments. I had silence and a joke that the picture that I used to illustrate my point was only good because it had a bottle of wine in it.

Yeah. Not really my best showing for my first time out, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? I’m feeling pretty beat up about it. So beat up that today as I tried to sit down and make the edits and that I ended up watching a lot of E.R. and then sneaking over to Dan’s flat to nap with him since he is on night shift. This was after I was a massive pain in the ass with him and extremely passive aggressive for the last couple of days. He told me to come over and tucked me into his side for a nap. Then we ate Chinese food and watched Top Gear  until it was time for him to go protect the Queen (yep. She is in this lovely city and he is on palace patrol tonight…hopefully it doesn’t rain tonight).

So now I sit on my couch trying to pretend that I don’t have a million and one things to still do complete my paper for next week and get back to feeling like the badass flamingo that I am. There is always tomorrow, right?

I didn’t even make it to the writing challenge for this week: my family. Tomorrow. As it is almost midnight, I will come back to that tomorrow.

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