Oh, to be an extrovert with self-esteem in the NORMAL range.
Assignment from professional development coach: E-mail Enormous Bigwig in Field to request research/mentoring chat at upcoming conference we’re both attending. EBF was on my dissertation committee, and while she’s rigorous and tough, has never been anything but supportive.
Day 1. Think about drafting e-mail. Feel sick. Do other things on to-do list.
Days 2-10. Repeat.
Day 11. Take self in hand and employ approach learned in therapy many years ago. Yay therapy! Determine what I’m afraid of. Determine probability of that outcome occurring. Determine whether I can take any action to reduce probability.
What I’m afraid of: A horrible reply. Such as:
1. I’m sorry, who ARE you? (Probability: 0%.)
2. No. Also, let me take this opportunity to tell you that I have no respect for you as a researcher, and wish to disassociate myself from you. Please do not approach me at the conference. You are pathetic and unclean, and I will henceforth not admit to knowing you at all. (Probability: .00001%. She did once tell another graduate student that I was strange. The fact that this still stings certainly suggests I am in fact pathetic.)
3. I’d love to but I’m going to be too busy. (Probability: 50%.)
Anything I can do to reduce the probability? No. But I did decide I’d be willing to visit just to meet with her, but was too embarrassed to say so, so I would come up with a pretext!!! to visit and offer that as an alternative to meeting at the conference. (I.e., I’ll be visiting this summer so we could coordinate schedules and ….) Ridiculous, yes. But hey.
Draft e-mail. Spend an hour on it, removing self-deprecating qualifiers. Feel extremely sick the whole time.
Send e-mail. Immediately close e-mail program to avoid thinking about anything to do with e-mail, feel extremely sick, consider hiding under desk.
Rapid heart rate any time checking email during rest of day.
Day 12. Blearily check e-mail before getting yowling baby. Read response from EBF without even knowing I’m doing it.
Response is a warm yes, including phrases a pleasure and looking forward to seeing you.
Feel happy all day.