Thursday, October 25, 2012

Taking the Reigns

The last month has been a roller coaster in terms of rejections, rejections, and an acceptance. My 1+ million dollar proposal was rejected, my manuscript in a super-high-IF journal was rejected after being in review for 2 months, and another manuscript is to be accepted after minor revisions.

After these two stinging rejections, I spent a week feeling very low and anxious. The stress affected my body in that the joints in the left side of my body began to ache, and walking became difficult. I began to think: Is this all worth it? I spend all this time at night and on the weekend working on proposals and manuscripts that ultimately get rejected. I forgo quality time with my family all in the name of work. What am I getting out of this job? My kids are growing up and I am present but not there. The stress is impacting me physically, too.

Taking control of my life and my job doesn't necessarily mean working longer hours or staying up later to get it all done. I've decided that I need to come back to "mindfulness" as I once did after reading Full Catastrophe Living. In 2009, I struggled with similar feelings and followed the meditation practices described in the book. I accepted that my life is "as is". Since then, I've lost that acceptance, and I need to be at peace again. I'm rebooting myself today.


Anonymous said...

I hear what you're saying and wish you well.

I read your post from a few weeks back where you talked about being the kind of parent that "Takes Care of Business" (TCB) and that you found it a waste of time that people worried about how to mother properly. I felt a little uncomfortable with that, because I'm an academic and a mother and still wonder about aspects of parenting. But I now see that the TCB can in some ways be a healthy coping strategy for being overwhelmed with trying to balance everything. I just wish it was easier to blend the positive parts of being a TCB parent with the positive parts of being truly present for parenting.

GMP said...

I have been grappling with the same issues for the last few years. Right after tenure, two of my big grants were expiring and I was having a really bad year with many proposal rejections, so I was starting to think that I would run completely out of money and would not be able to continue my research program. Eventually, I got two new big single-PI grants and two collaborative ones, so I am again in very good shape... For the next 2.5 years. I know I will be in the frenzy a year or so from now, when the renewals are due again and rejections start streaming in...

It's hard, constant rejections in our job and very few affirmations.
And just as you said, we have families but are not really present there for them, and why? Is this hunt for money and publications really worth it? For me, the answers is no fuckin' way.

The way I am trying to combat this overwhelming helplessness that permeates our work days is by trying to depersonalize the work. It is after all a job -- a wonderful, creative, well paid job. I appreciate it for what it gives me intellectually but I am trying to really appreciate it for what it gives my family: money, great benefits, job security meaning them not having to move anywhere for the duration of their childhood. I am grateful I have this job, and it's not just for the intellectual aspect, which is the aspect that hurts when our ideas get rejected...

Anyway, I feel your pain. I am also trying to make peace with the fact that perhaps I am truly mediocre and that my quest for glory is fundamentally ill-conceived. Even if so, I am still happy that I get to have this job, get to be intellectually stimulated and be my own boss, and get to provide for my family. And I go and hug and kiss my kids like there's no tomorrow, especially when a grant gets rejected.

Anonymous said...

Good luck.
I am sure you can get back to that -happier- state of mind.
I feel your tension. I have been there, and still am, there.