I really need to write a blog post. It’s difficult because, I’ve never blogged before. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I started working in the Scholars’ Lab almost three years ago…Wow, almost three years in the Scholars’ Lab. That shouldn’t be surprising, but it is, and a lot has happened in that short time. Plenty to write a blog post about.
The problem is, I don’t remember how to write. I walked away from a PhD opportunity and academia 15 years ago when I realized I was in a field that didn’t inspire me to continue to the next level. I’d gotten comfortable writing in the years leading up to that decision. I could even honestly say that I found topics like natural resource and agricultural policy to be very interesting, and worth writing about. But I got my master’s and moved on, and I stopped writing, and here I am trying to pick it back up. I mean, it’s just a blog post, not an opus on externalities. I just need to find something that interests me and write.
I should probably try to avoid relying on literary devices to drive my nonexistent narrative. Avoid the “how did I even end up here?” angle. No flashbacks to nearly three years ago, the day after a controversial Presidential candidate was elected, when I was going through the interview process for this job. I was standing in front of a large group of people way smarter than myself, going through a mediocre presentation on goodness knows what. It was a strange day. The mood around the Library was flat, and I was so certain I wasn’t going to get the job, that I actually felt relaxed. Maybe that helped? Maybe that’s my blog post! “Go into your job interview with so little confidence that you appear completely confident”.
Probably not enough material there. Besides, that interview was just the tip of the iceberg. Getting the job was the easy part. Doing the job, that’s when it got tough. Stressful. When I first started in the Lab, everything was so overwhelming. I’m not an academic. This group took a chance on me. In what spectacular ways would I let them down? Maybe more than I even realize today. I can’t even write a simple blog post for goodness’ sake!
Perhaps a post about Imposter Syndrome. That crippling internal feeling that you don’t belong, only made worse by the smarts you’re surrounded by on a daily basis. Do I want to put myself out there like that? Probably not. I’d have to talk about all the times, early-on, that I dreaded scheduled consults. Was terrified that I wouldn’t have the solution to a student or faculty member’s problem. That, having Chris by my side for those early meetings was crucial, but in the back of my mind I knew I’d eventually have to strike out on my own, and that was terrifying. That, almost three years later, I still occasionally get those feelings.
No, that won’t connect with readers. I’m the expert in those consults. Why would I be nervous? Besides, the people I really needed to impress were my peers. My colleagues in the Library, and more importantly, the Scholars’ Lab. They’ve worked in academia for years. They know so much about so many things. They have TONS of blog posts! Certainly, they would see through my serendipitous situation. They would ask the hard questions, and I wouldn’t be able to answer, and my score would gradually tally in the negative. They’d probably have meetings just to discuss how to get rid of me! But, no, that’s ridiculous. My colleagues are among the kindest, most supportive and understanding people I’ve ever worked with. If I can’t find the answers, they’ll help me find them. That’s what they do! I can’t throw them under the bus in the name of blogging glory.
I’ll just have to skip the self-awareness angle. Who’s going to take seriously someone so willing to put their insecurities out there? Maybe I’ll focus on the positives. I don’t have any blog posts, but I do have a job that I enjoy tremendously. I could talk about how I get to help really smart people answer really complex and interesting questions. How I’m surrounded by thoughtful and highly intelligent people that get to do the same thing and get the same enjoyment from it that I do. That I work for an incredibly supportive organization (in the Library and the Scholars’ Lab) that values my expertise, and doesn’t measure that value by hours on a timecard, but by the results of my work. How I’m constantly challenged by new problems, which means I’m constantly learning new things. How that support and encouragement has helped me overcome my fears, embrace the uncertain, and find a comfortable place here at the University.
Ugh, so cliché. I give up. I’ll give it another shot next week. Maybe a list of my favorite YouTube channels!