I think part of the reason for my lack of posts lately is more than simply the fact that I don’t sit in front of the computer 7 hours out of every day like I did at Old U. I think it’s something a little more fundamental. I imagine it’s not odd or unexpected that a switch to a bigger and more ‘important’ university would lead to stress, anxiety and self-questioning. I generally hate doing or being thought of as doing what is expected, but there you have it – I’m having a bit of an stress crisis.
Part of it comes from simple insecurity. The main seminar I’m in right now is on a topic that I don’t consider strictly in my realm of study, but I’m wondering more and more if it isn’t dealing with a lot of topics that I need to be able to manipulate well. Add to that the fact that the class I’m TAing now (and will be for the foreseeable future) is one that I feel more than a little bit uncomfortable teaching, and it all adds up to me feeling that I’m not doing what I want to be doing, and I don’t feel particularly effective doing what I’m doing.
So. I’m buried in work about things that I believe are important but not particularly interesting or as rewarding as I would like, and worried that this is what the next 5 years (perhaps the entire academic career?) will be like.
All this makes me feel sluggish. I’m not running as much as I used to. I’m sleeping more than I should. I feel like my brain is set on slow. I sometimes struggle to force myself to read through a page of words that swim around the page only to realize that I didn’t really understand any of it and have to start again. I'm pretty lazy to begin with, but now it seems to be getting worse.
As an optimist against all reason, I should say that I’m glad I’m in the seminar, and I am getting a lot out of it. I’m glad I’m TAing the difficult class for a lot of reasons. I really do think things will come out all right, even though I couldn’t tell you how. I just hope that I’ll be able to find something to re-inspire me – something challenging but that I know I can do, and do well.
I’ve got a pile of grading I don’t want to do, several chapters left to read (at least they’re in English), and a response paper to write, but I think I’m going to put on my running clothes and see if that convinces me to get out the door and run.
Edited to add: Because of the Blogger outage, I didn't post this right after I wrote it, but I did get out and do a long run. It felt pretty good.
8.88mi - 1:05'55"