Friday, October 28, 2011

I might be having a crisis.

This post might suck: full disclosure. Just a warning.
I am having a tiny bit of an existential crisis.
I am here for this conference, and what I really want to do is run away from the stuffed shirts as quickly as humanly possible and never (ever) think about Native American art history again. Ever.

(i probably should have taken this test some time ago...)
(my answers to ALL of these are a resounding FALSE.)

Dramatic, much?

Right. So to some of you this will be a surprise, but I believe in talking through these things. Perhaps it will resolve itself sooner than later, but then again, maybe not. We will ride this out, and in accord with the name of this dear sweet old blog, I will be informed, and thereby empowered to do what I need to do.

I'm truly not certain that I am in the right place- if this is where my training has led me. After sitting in session after session today, I'm not really certain that academia is the right thing for me. I question the degree of enthusiasm I have left to talk ad nausea about Derrida's theories about  the ramifications of identity, what that might mean for me, and for my practice, if it is or is not possible to open and pursue a formal discussion of certain things, if that's even appropriate, who defines identity, and what identity even is to begin with. I just don't know if I care.

Isn't that horrible?

Let me pause here for a moment to defend myself, please.
I'm not saying I am giving up. I am saying I am having some rather serious doubts about how committed I am, and how much I am ready for this whole serious academia thing. I am nervous that I am not made of the precise mettle that I need to be in order to make graduate school work without wanting to shoot myself. 

The honest truth is that I don't think my academic training has led me to a place that I feel ready to leap from. I am in no way discounting my education at BYU, or even the few months I have spent at UNL. In my life, the years I have spent as a student have been the most fruitful and full of my life, and I believe that all education is of some degree of value insofar as it leads you to a plane of inspiration. I do not feel inspired right now. What I AM saying, is that I might be ready for a change. I might be ready to feel inspired again. I pray only that I can find a means as well as the courage to do this if I feel it's the right thing to do.

So now you will ask, What would I do instead?
Funny you should ask.
I am typing this in a living room of a hostel that is UTTERLY inspiring to me. Next to me is a boy from Japan, across from us are two cute German boys who seem to be smitten with one another, and next to them is a cat and two girls of unknown origin. They seem to really enjoy their internet time and Justin Beiber.
Behind me, three British girls are laughing about a super gory Halloween special on tv.
As I reflect, these are the moments that give me the most will to go on living. The human connections. The random encounters and bond- forming. The kitchen full of people laughing and making and eating good (or sometimes not-so-good) food, the front porch with new babies and homemade haircuts, mingling of accents and robust conversations about flavors and farming practices and boys, decorating for holidays with people who don't understand them, weird clothing layers and even weirder ideas about books, heated debates about religion and history and philosophy and hip hop, THESE are were my value system lies, NOT in academic conferences where everyone has to prove their intellectual lineage and justify rationales.
Maybe I am getting nostalgic for a time that is past.
Maybe these are growing pains, and I am willing to accept responsibility for that if it is, in fact, the case.
But I am also willing to give myself the option to get out if I need to.
I might need to.
Any advice?


Jasie said...

I greatly miss those very particular human connections we were able to make in Provo. I miss your porch. My dream is to be a kind of Gertrude Stein where all my interesting artistic friends hang out at my house and trust my opinion on their works.

There is more to academia than conferences, and being in this academic world now doesn't mean you have to be in it forever. With your brilliance, creativity, and with your degree and experiences, I'm quite certain that you will find a place for yourself. It may be in academia, because it does tend to have some eccentric/geeky/interesting people in it. Also, I love the people I meet when I travel. Maybe you should do more traveling!

I love the richness of this post. It makes me want to look at my world a little differently, but you always do that.

I think you should take what you can from this conference, roll your eyes where appropriate, and find a way to make a contribution. Maybe people aren't really that concerned with sounding smart. Maybe they're just trying, in the way they know how, to get at the heart of an issue. A fresh perspective (not bogged down in continental philosophy?) might add some insight to the conversation.

Every academic questions their commitment. For me I just have to remind myself that my ideas are often weird because I have a very strange world view, and THAT is why they need me. I am finally confident in my life as a graduate student and it's taken me 4 years to get here. It's just not always a very comfortable journey.

anyway, enough of my rambling!! I hope you enjoy the conference! I love you!

Jasie said...

p.s. i cannot wait to show you pictures of my Halloween costume. I've nearly finished making it! :)

gavin said...

For me the academic rigors were the least fulfilling busywork. Discussing Derrida is fun at first like a new toy but then becomes less interesting eventually discarded and then tripped over. When I was finally able to break out of coursework and have a job that I love, that is when I stopped questioning. My career affects people, enacts justice, and inspires creativity. You'll find your niche. This conference is pointing you there more than you know.

Marge Bjork said...

SHAKE ACADEMIA DOWN!!!!! That's my motto in life.

Marge Bjork said...