succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wait, when did that happen?

It feels like I've only been here, in Atlanta, for a year. I'm still not really sure how 4.5 have passed. But this weekend was our open house, for potential PhD students, and it suddenly sunk in just how far I've come. Don't get me wrong, I liked some of the students quite a bit, it was just sort of shocking to remember that I was only 22 when I moved here, and to suddenly feel the emotional and intellectual distance that exists between the me now and the me then. Which is refreshing, and comforting, in a way, because who would want to spend 4.5 years working their ass off only to make no progress? But it's snuck up on me somehow, like a frog sitting in gradually heating water. Everything about the way I think about and approach work and research feels different now. And I can't imagine that I had any clue about what I was actually taking on back then, but I guess that's how youth works, right? I can only assume that 5 years from now I'll think back about how clearly insane I was to think that at 27 I could organize and teach those classes and at 28 that I took that job and how much I've learned and how different my thinking is. I guess it also makes me feel better about my dissertation - I read the best advice the other day, about how your dissertation will never be your best work, and trying to make it so will only drive you insane. And that, in fact, who would want it to be their best work? Because wouldn't it be sad if five, ten years from now you went back to it and thought, damn, I was smarter then than I am now? Sure, it'll be depressing to go back to it and cringe, and hopefully that won't actually happen, but it's perfectly reasonable to go back to it and think about other, different, better ways that I would do things. Sort of takes some of the pressure off to be perfect.


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