Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neuroticism and Unrealistic Expectations and Gender-normative behavior, oh my!

This something I started last week that I want to remember, but is not how I necessarily feel anymore:

Graduate school is an interesting beast. I'm smart, I know this. I am not being conceited, it's just what is. And typically, I do well in school. It comes easy to me. I have a curious mind that likes to learn new things. Never before have I felt completely lost for more than a day or so. Eventually everything clicks, and I just get it, at least well enough to be amongst the best in the class.

It isn't like that here. Here is like I'm drowning in my inability to make myself understand, but it's like I think I'm swimming along all nice and successful (ok, not successful, but I'm not sinking) until I get my first assignment back and it's like some nefarious riptide has grabbed hold of me and is dragging me under and swirling me around until I don't know which direction is up. And the truth is, I didn't do that poorly. I actually got a B, which is perfectly respectable. Not near the best grade in the class, but not near the worst, either. And you know what? I actually expected to probably get a B on this assignment. I knew I didn't get everything right, because there were some things where I didn't understand what he was asking. But he wrote "there were more things that were a little off here than I expected." Reading between the lines I see, "I had better expectations for you, and I'm actually pretty disappointed. You should have done better, and I now see you as less than I did before." And that B now feels like a D. I went and talked to him, and I feel a little better, but I really kinda don't. And I feel guilty any time I do something that isn't work. And I feel guilty because I want to sit on the couch and watch a Disney movie or 90210 or something, instead of reading about the visual cortex. Or doing my next problem set. Or failing at making a website. Or coming up with a research proposal or something.

Last night I baked. Granted, it was from a mix, but I busted out my beautiful Kitchenaid mixer (it makes me feel like such a grownup to have a Kitchenaid mixer) and I made some delicious brownies (with marshmallows) and some chocolate chip cookies, because someone in the program doesn't like brownies (I'm fairly certain he's an alien, but whatevs, more brownies for me) and asked me why I wasn't planning to make chocolate chip cookies like a normal person. Anyway, baking felt good. It felt nice to be doing something for someone else (and also, if I had left them here, I would have eaten enough of my feelings to have to engage in retail therapy because I would get fat). It felt nice to not fail (they were delicious and the cookies didn't fall like they normally do). And I was doing ok until I realized that I was disassociating from school to spare my feelings and doing something more gender-appropriate to compensate. And then I felt bad. And then I thought about how sometimes I wish I couldn't readily identify that what I was doing was disassociating from school and instead associating with a gender-normative behavior as a coping mechanism to make myself feel better for doing (semi) poorly on a (somewhat) male-dominated task like statistics, because sometimes ignorance is bliss. And then I was like, who cares? I like baking. And I'm not going to let myself get hung up on why I like baking. If it makes me feel better, I should just let it go, right? I mean, I'm not self-medicating with alcohol or drugs or anything, so I figure it's fairly harmless.

Anyway, I'm working on adjusting my expectations, both for the world, and for myself. And I'm letting go of some of the crazy. Or at least I'm trying. Whatever, I could be more crazy. And sometimes I'm endearing. And now I'm justifying. And procrastinating. Back to work I go.

No comments:

Post a Comment