finding my footing

I wish I could go back in time and tell my graduate student self that, one day, I would actually enjoy coming to this conference.  When I first started on this part of the professional path, conferences were tortuous.  I didn’t know anyone; I was too unsure of myself to just walk up and talk to people; I didn’t have anyone to smooth the way; I wasn’t sure how I fit into the scheme of things with my own interests and work.  Is it any wonder I hated it.

Things got exponentially better when I started at PRU.  I was slightly more confident with a PhD in hand.  I knew a few more people to provide familiar faces in the hallways.  I had colleagues who introduced me to their friends and colleagues.  It was like slowly finding my footing on a very slippery surface.

And now, I finally feel like the ice has melted and I’m standing on solid ground.  There are people who I look forward to seeing every year, many of whom have become friends.  I’ve figured out how my work makes sense in a larger context.  I’ve been able to take on administrative and service roles that have help create a space for me.

Perhaps most importantly, I’m comfortable with myself now.  I speak up in meetings; I walk up to people first; I question presenters; I reach out to graduate students; I crack jokes.  I still have moments of uncertainty and I may never lose the feeling that I don’t quite measure up to my colleagues; that’s just the nature of my personality, I guess.  But, in general, I feel like I fit into my professional skin now.

Thank goodness.

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2 thoughts on “finding my footing

  1. Fie Upon This Quiet Life says:

    I went to a conference recently and was surprised at how much more comfortable I felt than last year at this time. Maybe it’s because I was giving a paper I felt good about. Maybe it’s because I recognized a few people. I used to feel so self-conscious at conferences, but now, I love them. It’s a great way to get caught up on new research when you’re teaching a 4/4 load.

    • phd me says:

      So glad that you’re finding the same thing at conferences, Fie. I was really taken aback by my response this year; past conferences have been pleasant enough but I still had that self-conscious feeling. Let’s hope this continues for us both!

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