Don’t Panic and Carry a Towel
A few months back I started a blog about getting the dissertation done called Fuck Yeah Dissertation!. Rather than leaving it to mummify on the inter-webs, I’m going to repost some entries here from time to time.
When faced with the pressures of deadlines it’s easy to slip into the warm, jittery embrace of panic. For me, it’s about time and failure. I panic when I haven’t done enough work: “I should have 50 pages by now.” I panic when I think about how much work I have left to do: “I have no idea how much more work there is left, but I know it’s too much to get done.” And then I panic that I’m panicking and not actually working.
These panic moments manifest when I feel like I’m losing control of my project. Control is an asshole: it makes you think that life has order, but you just haven’t figured out how that order operates. And Control lies: it makes you think that if you dwell on the past or the future, that your present will equilibrate to a natural order. But Control is an illusion: we actually have no control over anything that happens in our lives, ever. That doesn’t mean we don’t have agency, it simply means that at any moment you might hear good news about a fellowship, or get a papercut, or the sun could go supernova.
So, I remind myself that right now, in this moment, I’m actually okay. To do that, I write it all out, usually in the form of a conversation. If I put all my crazy fears on paper, I can actually address them and calm them down. And if I type them up, I sometimes go back and read other conversations I’ve had with myself.
Crazy? Sure, but I’m a graduate student in a shitty economy within a privatizing corporate education system — we’re all fucking crazy.