24 June 2005


today after the gym i found myself singing the above to the tune of john lennon's "isolation," a dire and not-respectable reimagining of that song but a pretty accurate picture of a current worry. the question that has been confronting me lately, with all my work and most of my personal life (don't get me started on the relationship(s) between those two), is whose expectations are these? well, and furthermore, if these aren't mine, which ones are?

here's why: as usual, i have taken on slightly too much for the summer. also as usual, i have made relatively grand plans and not (really) followed through. i was going to work nine hours a day, much less than my semester-time work if the metric is "time at the office" and probably a pretty similar amount if the metric is "time actually spent working." that's three on school choice, three on sexual violence, three on the comparative exam.

BUT. although i'm pretty proud of my diligence with the school choice research and OK with the current state of my reading list knowledge, i have done very little of the work i set out for myself on the sexual violence project. and my professoradvisorbosspersonthing is coming in from out of town, and i am meeting her at 9.00 tomorrow morning, and i kind of don't know what tone to take.

a (not the) moral of this story is that if i'm going to be so goddamn reliant on the opinions of my authority-figures-of-the-moment, then i should be a lot more assiduous about getting clear expectations out of them before i begin. another moral of the story is that i need to figure out what to do in cases where there's a mismatch between my own judgment about the work and my a-f-o-t-m's judgment. what is the difference between being dissatisfied with yourself when the prof thinks it's fine(or just doesn't care) and being happy with your work when the prof wants more (or different)? i fall into the first of those categories fairly often, which is fine in a career sense but less fine in a mental health sense, but the second is the one that i really wonder about.

when your interest level somehow isn't what it should be, or when your interest is tangential to the task at hand, you are in dangerous and possibly very fruitful territory. you can learn something about yourself, you can find a new way of thinking...or you can just get fired. sometimes all three.

being judicious about your own expectations and capabilities...lately that seems like the key to success, at least where dissertation-making is concerned. suffice it to say that i don't think i've mastered it yet.