What is this human emtion called Happiness?
While I’ve been alternating between despair and apathy, moderately good things have been happening at work. First, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at one of my favorite conferences. Even though it’s a small conference, not one with national importance or anything, my academic friends will understand that this is still a good thing career-wise. The best part is seeing my name on the list of invited speakers next to the names of people who are genuinely important and famous (to the extent that academics can be famous).
Second, I was nominated for Mediocre Institution’s award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. I put a lot of thought and energy into being a good teacher, but am NOT one of those teachers everyone loves. My classes tend to be on the hard side. My favorite thing to hear from students at the end of the semester is, I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but I learned so much! I’m not naturally charismatic, either–in fact, I suffer from severe stage fright that is only now becoming tolerable, but half my brain is still occupied with keeping the terror under control during any given class. In short, I never expected to even be nominated for an award…but I’ve always dreamed that I might win one anyway. There are a lot of nominees for this one and only one award, so I’m not holding out much hope. Also, the next step is for a committee member to sit in on a class and talk to students, and I’m not teaching, so may not even have a shot. BUT, being nominated is great. There’s a reception with the university president and everything.
So, if I were normal, I’d be happy. I’d be like, Things are going well at work! I don’t need to feel like shit all the time about everything! And yet, while each of these events did result in a brief moment of enthusiasm, they don’t actually make me feel good about my life. I think nothing but reaching the second trimester of pregnancy will. Perhaps not even that. In grad school, I read a paper about the way certain life events alter the set-point for life satisfaction. There was an equation for life satisfaction and everything. The basic idea was that your baseline happiness goes down after certain experiences. Your normal happiness level is just lower. Sort of like developing a tolerance to heroin. I think I might be feeling the effects of this phenomenon. I feel like I got a couple of shots of happiness but they just didn’t last like they used to, didn’t get me as high. I need to figure out where I can score some better shit.