To stop letting my jealousy and insecurity keep me from writing.
Grad school is very competitive, especially for people working on their Ph.D.s in English. We all know that there are way too many people with graduate degrees and not enough teaching jobs, so we have to put in 110% in order to survive in academia. Sometimes it makes me feel like it's "every academic for himself/herself", only instead of battling it out with swords in a duel we're debating each other with critical theories and academic jargon in a conference room.
Since all the grad students pick different areas of literature, poetry, rhetoric, or creative writing to focus on, we are not all necessarily competing for the same jobs. But before each academic presentation or lecture, the speaker is usually introduced by someone else who lists that speaker's accomplishments. It makes me feel jealous and insecure because I can't help thinking about how short my list would be if I was the one being introduced.
I feel self-conscious whenever people ask me, "So, how far along are you on your dissertation?" after they've just finished making it sound like their dissertation is so good that even people who aren't scholars will want to read it. It also makes me want to invite that person out to lunch and sneeze on his or her fork when he or she isn't looking.
Because of that jealousy and insecurity, it makes me feel even more pressured and nervous when I sit down to work on my dissertation. This past year in particular was difficult for me, and I became so discouraged that I often let my jealousy of others and my insecurity keep me from writing. I shouldn't have done that.
I do not resolve to never feel jealous or insecure again. These feelings are natural, and they're part of what makes me human. Instead, I know that I should use those feelings to motivate me to work hard, so that hopefully one day I'll have something to brag about. And in a way, I can't blame the other academics for wanting to talk about their success. They earned it.
I think it's similar to what fiction writers go through too. It's natural for us to feel jealous of writers who get book deals, movie deals, big-name agents or publishers, etc. But what's key is that we can't let our jealousy keep us from working on our own writing. I think that it's okay to envy someone else's success, as long as we focus more on our own work and success than on others'.
Here's a nice video I found about Natalie Goldberg's views on NaNoWriMo and how it's important to "keep showing up" to write. Her words made me feel better and reminded me that I need to keep showing up too.
I resolve to cook and eat healthier foods. If the cast of Jersey Shore can cook, then I should be able to learn how to cook too. Normally I eat in the school cafeteria when I'm on campus, but even though some of the food tastes okay, other times I start thinking that maybe all those jokes about cafeteria food making people vomit are actually based on the truth. I also buy meals that are already prepared at the grocery store, like those roasted chickens or stuff from the salad bar or deli. But that's expensive, and I can't afford to keep doing that.
So I've already looked up a few recipes online and am going to try them. I might end up setting my clothes on fire like the last time I tried cooking, or maybe I'll take a bite and immediately spit it out like the previous three times I tried to cook something. But practice makes perfect, right? Or at least practice will make the food edible. And cooking healthier foods will save me money and calories.
I do not resolve to stop eating junk food altogether. I love chocolate. I also love Coke so much that I actually had a dream about driving off into the sunset in a Coca-Cola delivery truck. But I'm not addicted to soda. I mean, I've only had that dream once...a day. But still.
Every time I eat junk food (and I do try to eat it in moderation), I go to the gym afterwards to make up for it. And the regular exercise is good for me too.
That's why I think that vices and flaws can be good things, because they can motivate us to change our habits or improve our lives as a whole. I do make New Year's resolutions every year, but I try to be realistic about the kinds of resolutions I make, so that I'll be more likely to keep them. For example, I can't make resolutions like, "I resolve that I will never fantasize again about the cast of Riverdance dancing on my students' cell phones so that the students will FINALLY stop texting during class," or "I resolve to stop thinking of insults I'd like to say to people I don't like (though I never actually say them), such as "You do realize that when you make yourself sound more important than everyone else, you sound like every reality show cast member on VH1 and Bravo, right? And do you really want people to think you're like one of the Real Housewives or Bret Michaels?" I don't bother making those kinds of resolutions, because I'd never keep them.
What about you? What are some of your vices or flaws? What kinds of resolutions did you make, if any?
Side note: Sorry that I haven't commented on some of your blogs lately. I'm still having that problem I had before, on posts that require commenters to leave their e-mail addresses in addition to their screennames and the option of leaving a link to their blogs/websites. In the past when I left a comment, the link went to my blog, like it's supposed to. But now it links to my e-mail account, which means that anyone who clicks on it can access my e-mail. So I haven't been leaving comments on those posts that require e-mail addresses; I'm just going to have to figure out how to resolve that in the meantime. But I am reading your blogs, I promise!
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