You don't have to convince anybody of anything
So I'm freaking out about this conference. This was supposed to be the low-pressure dry run for March and April - a non-statistical poster at a non-statistical conference. And yet all week I've been a basket case. So today my therapist gave me a set of instructions. A To Do List to get through the next week. Two items on that list are "You don't have to convince anybody of anything" and "Expect (picture) a friendly audience." Our conversation about those two made me realize some things about my entire approach to my profession, and part of my motivation for seeking a PhD.
I expend a lot of my energy outside of myself - directing it toward other people, worrying about their stuff, trying to affect change for them. Things I don't have control over. So it's no surprise that that is how I approach my work too. Thinking (worrying) about how to convince an audience that my analysis is correct. There are some good things about that approach - thinking about how best to convince (explain something to) my students certainly makes me a better teacher. But I don't actually have any control over what people believe and understand. All I can do is my best work, have faith in that work, and stand behind that work. What people do with the information I provide, whether they choose to believe my results, agree with my choices - I have no control over these things.
I also tend to enter situations prepared for people to poke holes in my arguments. Again, not all bad. Debates with friends during undergrad prepared me well to criticize my own arguments, look for potential holes, and fill them. I certainly do that every time I write something here. But there are lots of situations in life for which I don't have to be defensive. My field is actually pretty congenial. Although it's not outside the realm of possibility for a questioner to be a real asshole and confrontational, it's definitely pretty far outside the norm. And my direct experience provides plenty of examples of a warm, friendly, and appreciative audience. Better to envision that the night before a presentation than one of my PhD fantasies - I have to confess that one reason (not The reason) I decided to pursue a PhD is because I always sort of expected to be treated like a 12-year old girl, and I figured the letters after my name would lend more credence to my arguments. I need to let go of that idea, of that expectation, and recognize that it just feeds into the Imposter Syndrome. I need to stop thinking that I have to hide behind my (hopefully) soon-to-be title, or dress up and 'play grown-up' to feel like I deserve respect. I, and my work, are enough.