Confidence?

After tenure I was kind of depressed. Some likened it to post-partum depression and another friend said it was the golden cage syndrome. And not long ago I felt like I was in a mid-career rut and not happy about it. But something changed in the last six months to make me feel more confident, more at ease. Maybe it was just having a very relaxing summer — no trips overseas to plan, no conferences, and an awesome, lazy vacation to a lake with a superiority complex and a cabin in the woods, and many morning and evenings at home spent on our lovely new deck furniture in what has been a pretty mild summer (when it wasn’t raining).  Or maybe it was having a *productive* summer that did it — though I haven’t quite finished it to polished state, and I need to give it to friends to read before I send it out to a journal, I did complete a 10,000-word draft of that article that I’ve been sitting on for way too long. And I learned some Italian, too!

At any rate, here’s a measure of the confidence and ease I feel with who I am and where I am in my career. The other day I was revisiting the five reviews my first book received, all of them largely positive (yay!), but each with some criticism to make. I read those criticisms, some of which overlapped, and thought, for the most part, the critics were absolutely right. And I just kind of shrugged and made a mental note to try not to do that in future work. Or, where I thought they were wrong, even if overlapping, in their criticism I thought, “Eh, just make it clearer what you’re doing next time, Virago, since folks don’t get it.” And where they made points that differed from each other, I thought, “Well, you can’t please all of the people all of time.” And that’s it. So it goes.

And get this: I came across a line in one of the reviews that I’d totally forgotten about, one that might make a lot of people go “WTF?”, but it just made me laugh. In fact, I laughed so hard I made a Facebook comment about it. So what was the line?  Apparently, Dr. Virago “writes an excellent endnote.” What a weird line of faint praise! Anyway, I totally want this on my tombstone, present tense and all.

Who is this person and where did she come from?! Usually I’m the person who remembers the one stinker evaluation comment in the batch and forgets the 29 glowing ones, and then fumes about the stinker for weeks. So how did I become so cool and confident of late?

Maybe it’s a settling into tenure? Maybe it’s just realizing, on some level, that this is who I am and it works for me, and being happy with that? At any rate, remind me of this feeling next time I get in a funk, OK?

And btw, you can see our awesome, relaxing deck here. Meanwhile, here’s one of the gorgeous “North Coast” views we contemplated on our explore-our-own-region vacation (confidential to relocating coasters who may have their doubts: the Midwest *does* have plenty of natural beauty! And water!):

I swear the colors are not manipulated in the photo!

I swear the colors are not manipulated in the photo!

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9 thoughts on “Confidence?

  1. I’m glad you’re rediscovering your center after tenure. I know that achieving tenure for me was a milestone immediately overshadowed by wondering what was wrong with youngest (starting years of pursuing the autism diagnosis) and it took quite a while to feel as if I was ever going to be anything good as a researcher/writer again.

    Midwest vacations rock, I must agree. We live in what is prime summer vacation country for the city-bound southerners (my university boasts of being “the academic resort of [insert province name here]” and, for the summer, that’s not far off with the university beach, blueberry bushes and trails galore on which to go hiking.

  2. man, I hope I reach this state of mind one day!

    I had a mini-panic-attack the other day about my tenure review. That was successful. And completed a year ago. I wondered if I’d ever let go of the anxiety. This gives me hope I might!

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