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June 2, 2009

In a similar vein…

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:16 pm

The more I begin to feel like I have meaningful results and useful ideas to contribute (or can at least fake it), the more our collaborative group project-planning meetings become one of my favorite parts of my job. I really admire my colleagues and enjoy the way we think together.

In the beginning, when I first started working as part of the team rather than just doing data entry here, I approached planning meetings a little like I was going on trial. Not that I ever spoke or contributed much, but when I did talk, I felt like all I was doing was trying to justify my right to be there (which I didn’t really believe I had) and prove that I’d been getting lots of work done (which, frequently, I hadn’t).

It’s taken me years to get to a point where…I trust that my colleagues really do expect me to know what I’m talking about – and they want to hear it not because they’re looking for proof that I’m a slacker-ass fraud, but because they believe I have something relevant to contribute to the discussion. I don’t always agree. They are far more experienced, knowledgeable and savvy than I am – being that, among other things, they both have PhDs and decades working in the field. But I’m no longer totally shocked when they take one of my suggestions and run with it.

I’ve reached a point where thinking about how to orchestrate our research is more interesting, challenging and fun than it is a daunting confusion. I do still feel a little less engaged than the other people I work with; I feel less ownership over the results. But, to be fair, that’s because I am less engaged. This work is 100% of their livelihoods and a constitutive element of their careers whereas, for me, it’s effectively a summer job. Granted, so is working in Antarctica. Two alternating summer jobs, one for each hemisphere…

Which begets the question: What is my actual vocation?

But after a meeting, which typically last 3 – 4 hours, I rarely feel like going back to work. I don’t want to dive right back into what I was doing before. I want to let the things we talked about percolate for a while and see how they influence my thinking. I want to muse, and blog, and re-organize my To Do List around my updated calendar…

And the thing is: That’s my prerogative. I’m an adult. I set my own hours. I’m responsible for organizing my time, getting my work done, and meeting my deadlines in the way I see most fit.

Yet, despite the fact that nothing even remotely like this has EVER happened, I still haven’t entirely shaken the fear that someone is going to show up at the door of my office and “catch” me “goofing off,” look at my computer screen and shout, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?

Fighting impostor syndrome is a bitch. I’m lucky that I’ve had such a great group of people around while I do it.

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