Skip to content

The therapeutic sofa, part 6. Career = Hard.

Lately I’ve been taking some significant career steps.

I told Therapist that I had a lot of anxiety about this. After we talked for a bit, she asked me what my husband had to say. I had to admit I hadn’t told him. Why not?

I mumbled some shit about how when you care about something, it’s hard to share it with other people and…but that didn’t feel right. It’s true that when it comes to career stuff, he is enthusiastic and supportive but doesn’t necessarily GET what I’m doing. But that’s fine. So what was the real reason? Eventually it occurred to me: Me putting more energy into my job means me putting less energy into our family. It means me being even more bitchy and exhausted than I am already. And that has a real impact on him. Here we are struggling to stay afloat with the amount of energy we’ve got, and I want to take some from somewhere and put it into MY JOB? MADNESS.

Of course, when I finally screwed up my courage and told him what I was up to, he was supportive. We’ll see if he can actually handle me being even more drained, but at least he’s now officially signed up for it.

So thanks to Therapist for reminding me that work and life are interrelated. Funny how I forgot about that! She gave me some buckets for dealing with this. My favorite is: Ask yourself every day: What do I need to do today to stay SANE? I like this. It reminds me to put myself in the picture, to think of myself as important, rather than putting my head down and hoping to just MAKE IT THROUGH THE DAY. Because that approach leads to me yelling and  having to shut myself in the bathroom. Despite my anonymous commenter’s suggestion that I just “pull up my socks”.

Then we talked about some of the other issues I have career-wise. I think this stuff will be not at all interesting to you, BUT just in case there are any early-career academics reading who happen to have exactly my personality flaws…

Let me start with a little photo essay. This is where my educational career started.


Though, to be fair, there were DOORS on the building then.

And this is where it ended, at least with me on the student side of the desk.


It’s been quite a journey, and I have accomplished SO MUCH, and I am so proud of that fact. No-one but me will ever really appreciate how hard it was or how entirely on my own I was in doing it. I AM PROUD, and there’s not much I’m willing to admit to being proud of.

What sucks is that despite all my AMAZING ACHIEVEMENTS I am pathetically lacking in self-confidence, and all the abilities that come with it. The ability to self promote (OMG EVERY FUCKING EMAIL I GET FROM MALE COLLEAGUE HAS  SOME KIND OF SELF-PROMOTIONAL CONTENT. FUCKING INSANE). The ability to approach people who might help me achieve my professional goals. The ability to even HAVE professional goals…

So over the past year I’ve been doing some work on these things. I got some career coaching that helped with the GOALS part, and I formulated my GOALS. And then Therapist gave me some buckets that have helped me actually ACT to achieve those GOALS.

Bucket #1: Accept that the place I got my PhD is, actually, based on her experience, a bit notorious for creating grads who lack faith in themselves. It’s a good-at-breaking-you-down, not-good-at-building-you-up place.

Bucket #2: Accept that people can be of use to us, and perfectly willing to help us, regardless of whether or not they LIKE us. My undergrad mentor LIKED me. She cared, and still cares, about me. My advisor at my AlmaGradSchool Mater cared about a lot of her students. But I was never one of them. I always felt crappy about that. What’s wrong with me? But it doesn’t matter. She can still help me. And I asked her to, and she has.

Bucket #3: I like to be super organized and matter of fact. High powered people who are constantly being asked for help like you to be super organized and matter of fact when you ask them for help. Some of my natural qualities are actually GOOD FOR THIS SHIT.

Aaaaaand, I think that’s it for this supremely fascinating post.

Next up: Being Almost 40 = Hard, which is basically going to be me whining about how my pants don’t fit. Stay tuned.

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh, my, yes.

    We had a meeting last year that basically involved the males in my program whipping out their penises and measuring them right there (metaphorically speaking, of course!). And in annual review materials… Oy.

    I like the Bucket of SANITY. I need to remember that one.

    August 16, 2013
  2. First of all, yay for being proud for what you achieved!
    #2 is very important to keep in mind, and I sometimes wonder if women struggle more with this than men. At least with men I never have the impression they worry whether they’re liked before asking for the help or support you might give them…
    Good luck with the big goals! It’s great that Mr. Bunny supports you, even though he might not know what he’s in for…

    August 16, 2013
  3. Sarcasm usually comes with a lot of self underestimation. Which, if left to its own devices, can be quite a nuisance. Good to hear you are taking care of it. Because, as far as I have heard, nuisances are less good for bright outcomes. And you have worked so hard to get your bright outcome, you should have it and enjoy it as well.
    *puts down self-made therapist/general wisdom imparter/psychopoopoo tiara (tiaras are the new hats)*
    *pats herself on the shoulder*
    *finds that difficult and awkward, so lefts off to find chocolate biscuits*

    August 16, 2013
  4. I have to say, the fact that you are working on these really big things (both career wise and goals + family and life stuff) is huge and extremely admirable and makes me think that you have your shit together way more than I could ever even dream of. You are going there, using energy to get there, and are better off for it, even if it drains you because it will eventually stop draining you. I wish I had 10% of what you have. I don’t have the courage to get there myself.

    Without sounding like a big dork…I think you are amazing Bunny. I’m guessing a lot of other people do too.

    August 16, 2013
    • ana #

      Agree with this 100%. Good on you for tackling it all instead of sweeping under the rug like the rest of us (well, me, anyways)

      August 19, 2013
  5. I’m enjoying the therapeutic sofa series very much, although I wish that life hadn’t become so difficult that you needed to go back to the couch. That being said, it sounds like you are being HUGELY productive in therapy. If you were my client, I’d be feeling SUPER smug at this point, bragging to my peer supervision group that my one client is AWESOME and making all these changes in her life (I’m talking like I take ownership of my client’s progress. But you know I don’t. ).
    The part about you being proud of working your ass off (and what do you mean, your pants don’t fit?) to get to where you are gave me goussebumps. I’m glad you fully own that part of your awesomeness and that you can experience pride in your accomplishments.
    I really like the daily question of what needs to happen for you to stay sane. My own therapist was reminding me lately that the best gift we can give our kids is our own mental health. I think I might have that tattooed on my arm.
    I can see that the added stress and workload might be a lot right now. However, your career is important AND the babies will grow up. They will be going to school before you know it, and you are planting the seeds right now for the years to come. And that’s a really wise thing to do, to take care of them and take care of you.

    August 16, 2013
  6. Misfit #

    My boss is a tool. Somehow he is my boss having less experience and qualifications than I do. I have just created the “goal” idea in the last few weeks. 2013 was be aggressive year. So far, it is also including attempts at self promotion. 40 has been hard. Career has been hard. I owe your therapist money at this point by following along your journey.

    Sorry to be a slacker commenter, too. I am cheering you on in all buckets of goodness here. I look forward to the next installment with great anticipation.

    August 16, 2013
  7. You’ve come a long way kid….which I know is a counter-statement to your teaser about the upcoming turning 40 post. But you’re still a kid if you ask your mom 🙂 So I am counting that.

    My career stuff is hard lately too! There is what I want to do, what I have to do and then a whole shit ton of stuff I don’t even have the energy for and just try to grind through it and forget about it. Career does = Hard

    August 16, 2013
  8. Jen #

    Men are better self promoters – they are taught to be so – and women are taught to make things work and keep the peace…I have had to work very hard over the years to just say out loud “I did this(where this is some cool thing)” and I still hate it but thanks to my mentor, a man by the way, it’s actually led to me getting acknowledged and compensated appropriately. This is a fascinating post. Yours always are. I can’t wait to hear about turning 40! 😉

    August 16, 2013
  9. Dude, career *is* hard. But most importantly, YAY YOU for being able to feel proud of your achievements. You did all that. You learned all that stuff, and got through fucking grad school (fucking grad school…smh), in a notorious-for-breaking-people-down department, of all things, and … I don’t really have a point here, but in conclusion and furthermore, it is good that you are proud of yourself. The end.

    August 16, 2013
  10. Roccie #

    Proud monkey on this end.

    August 17, 2013
  11. ana #

    Lots of good stuff here. Self-promotion is my weakest point (oh well, it was nothing, and I had a lot of help, etc…). I am riddled with insecurities in my professional life, and it never occurred to me that therapy could help with that aspect too (in addition to my insecurities and inadequacies in parenting/marriage/etc…). I said it above, and I’ll say it again, you really rock for realizing you needed some help sorting your shit out and ACTUALLY GETTING THAT HELP. I’m still trying to screw up the courage to do this, and your experience is helping me.

    August 19, 2013
  12. I want to hear about your career insecurities! I am an early career academic who has a lot of your personality flaws! Please get on writing a book in your spare time. I have this little thing, you might have heard of it, called imposter syndrome? It sucks. But you are awesome. And it’s awesome to have career goals and to be acting on them.

    August 20, 2013
  13. just in case there are any early-career academics reading who happen to have exactly my personality flaws…

    We don’t have precisely the same flaws, but I’m sure some of ours overlap, and, more importantly, you have (a) kid(s). I don’t know many other early-career academics around me that have kids; there are two from my Ph.D.-granting institute, but both are enough older than me that their kids are in school and hence things Work Somewhat Better. One of my colleagues at my new institute had a baby in July, but he’s a guy…and it’s different for the guys.

    So I very much appreciate being able to read this perspective from another ECA, another mother, another person trying to juggle life, work, kid(s), etc.

    August 21, 2013
  14. I am very impressed by your ability to convert the thought into action, and, enormously so, by the journey you have made. I look forward to your autobiography.
    Good on you, bunny.

    I also loathe the requirement to self-promote – loathe hardly covers it. Oh, whole body pretzel-cringe! Any thoughts on how to battle that particular demon fear of boastfulness are most welcome. I have found a certain amount of success in doing a small self-promoting thing and then rewarding myself lavishly. Seriously. The cake overrides the cringe, to some degree. Work in progress, of course.

    Goes without saying.

    August 22, 2013
  15. Nicole #

    Happy Birthday to Bunlet. He shares my older daughters Bday!

    August 22, 2013
  16. I also owe your therapist money. I need to follow your lead, especially with setting professional goals and getting more deliberate about reconnecting with my SO. I so appreciate your candor in these posts. And I should totally meet you in real life since I already think you’re AWESOME.

    August 25, 2013
  17. Career does = hard. I’m pretty much in awe of anyone who has even the most vaguely outlined career goals. I’ve been doing my job for, um, 8 years now? Still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Go you, for figuring this stuff out and, more importantly, for actually doing something about it.

    August 26, 2013

Comment. Do it. Comments are moderated, so might take a while to show up.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s