I defended my dissertation this past week successfully. My committee only asked for me to clean up the typos, a few edits for clarification or correction of format. I am the one who wants to add a table or two. Wow. That means I did a good job. I am still thinking about that.
Why do I have to think about that? Why can’t I accept that, yes, I did a good job, at least content wise and overall writing. But I see 50 typos in 50 pages and wonder what else did I miss.
Yes, there is a syndrome this relates to: Impostor Syndrome. I have suffered from this for a long time; partly because I don’t always feel that I fit in wherever I am; I am not a “real” teacher because I didn’t dream of being a teacher all of my life; yet, I worked very hard, spend time and money to improve my own understanding of pedagogy and content; to help my students, to be able to teach the more effective way science should be taught. But I didn’t set in the teacher’s lounge discussing sponsoring prom and looking at all of the cool prom catalogs like some teachers do; I didn’t volunteer to learn and then do the books for sporting events (although I did coach-two sports, boys & girls, so is that really 4 sports?); I did class sponsor, and club sponsor, and tutored and was at school later in the evenings after sports practice to help students, and you may have an image of me. I also had no children of my own, so school was my life, both as a teacher and as a student.
These past few years working on my doctorate, I am a non-traditional student. I have a good retirement and could live off it for a long time; I do not need to work. But I want to; I do not think I am done, I can continue to contribute but I digress. I don’t hang out with the students 20-30 years younger than I; I am not trying to score networking points, I am just me. I have not been actively involved in many graduate student activities-I have no desire to go out with half a dozen grad students who sit at a table far away from the band so as to not be disturbed by the noise for conversations and then have them texting each other at the table as well as friends not present. What? Nope not me cup of tea.
I am married. I have friends, professionally. I have connections. I know who I am and what I want to accomplish with this degree and the next 8-10 years or so of employment before I really consider retirement. Does this make me an impostor?
Proud of my accomplishments. Yes, I am. Sometimes though it has been very lonely. Many weekends spent alone. Many hours of alone time working long hours and then saying enough. But then that last 24 hours before a deadline working frantically it seems even though I have been working mentally all along, writing in my mind, writing on the computer and now finally polishing. Yes, perhaps I should have not taken that time off and instead I should have stayed at the computer working.
My adviser called me a scholar. I hope so but if so why do I not live and breathe this 24/7? Balance? Yes, sometimes. More often than not, talking myself into believing I can do this. Then realizing I can and feeling badly for being arrogant and/or questioning of my abilities.
We women do this to ourselves but why? That is the question and while I have read many, many things about this, I we still do this to ourselves. Even if intellectually I know that I am just as capable as another person, male or female. But under stress or times of uncertainty, it is easy to slip back into bad habits and society’s expectations. Every day feeling stronger but that is the light at the end of the tunnel shining on me and I can see completion soon.
Silly girl, no silly woman, no silly person.