Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Block

Ever hit a block that is primarily emotional that keeps you from making progress?

Well, I'm living it right now and I'm just about to the edge of the cliff realizing that the pent up emotion behind the block is quite likely going to push me over.

A little background: A current writing project which I have going is the result of my inability to say no when given little or no opportunity. Now, saying 'no' has always been a problem for me but generally I have gotten better at this utterance when I am able to separate myself from the immediate "questioning zone" and really ponder the pros and cons of saying 'yes'.
However, in my current dilemma, I wasn't able to get the needed space and fell into the 'yes' trap. It happened like this:

DA: Do you want to have lunch tomorrow?
Me: Sure
DA: How about pizza?
Me: Sounds good.

( lunch day, sitting at a table with my pizza)
DA: OK, I know you didn't know we were going to talk about this, but X needs to be written and here is an outline I have drafted which has already been approved. We have all the stuff, it won't be that bad.
Me: (yes, I did it...I pronounced that dreaded word, well, a derivative anyway) OK

Now, I know I am fully capable of saying the word 'no'; however, I can't help feeling like it was sprung on me and that 'no' wasn't really an option?? And maybe I'm being a total baby here but isn't part of DA's job to think about what is on my plate and provide some guidance about what is doable??? I have really tried to think about this from her point of view as well --yes, this is helping a student get a relatively easy pub for the CV, etc. But I still keep coming back to a point where I think it was really selfish (because she really needs X written and someone else was originally supposed to do it) and that she knew she was being a bit underhanded at the time because of the manner in which the job was handed over to me.

OK, that's the background. Here is the continued decline of this situation:

I've been struggling with writing project X. It isn't really MY interest and isn't something I've been working on much in the last year. But I kept telling myself that DA was going to help me through it and it would all work out. However, a recent communique from DA indicated that she is now 'out of the loop' on project X and besides, she is helping me with too much other stuff---I am so ANGRY I have been barely able to keep from throwing things and I can't even address it because if I take 2 seconds to think about it, it makes me cry!!! Out of the loop? WTF!!!!! The other things she is helping me with are things I took on myself and I am perfectly capable of handling because they feel like they are MY projects. In fact, I would not have minded doing a couple of them completely on my own. But Project X, I don't want to do it, I am not interested, and I don't even know what to really do with it. It's not my outline nor my primary area of interest. I don't feel ownership for the project, nor apparently does she. However, the people it needs to go to are important and it needs to be done well. Unfortunately, every time I open the #$%%& file on my computer I can't overcome the overwhelming anger I feel.

How do I get through this and just get writing project X to be "good enough" to be sent out and move on??


Psycgirl said...

Statgirl - I'm going to assume DA is an advisor of yours? I completely understand your pain. Old School Advisor is always giving me things to do and doesn't "have my back" with my workload - he'll encourage me to do things so his faculty buddies benefit even when I'm busy, or pass off "emergency" work on me (like the most recent work he gave me that had to be done in 2 weeks, so I put everything else aside and now I find out I get LAST crack at the data/authorship). It really sucks when advisors do this, b/c there isn't any type of person you can complain to, and they hold so much over you. My advice would be to prioritize things so that they work out best for YOU and avoid pissing off DA (So if you put something low you can say "well, I'm first author on X, Y, and Z, so I thought the largest chunk of time should be mine" or something like that.

other than that breathe and vow you will treat your own students better and remember how much they will appreciate it. Good luck.

post-doc said...

I've been in those situations before too, and psychgirl is absolutely right in my experience. There's not a lot you can do about it, and you often get screwed over when it comes to credit.

For me, I let myself be angry, but try to think of how good it will be to not deal with the project anymore. So I try to make quick progress and worry about quality later.

Or, find out who really does think this is important and ask for a quick meeting? Maybe that would offer some cool ideas or at least some inspiration?

I'm sorry - it's a crap situation. I'm sure you'll do great though - good luck.

Marianne said...

Ugh, what a messy situation.

I stumbled here from the comment page over w/ proffffgrl (or however it's spelled). Congrats on the offer at BRU. I too am in the midst of job searching and it is a cray time.

Anonymous said...

"I put everything else aside and now I find out I get LAST crack at the data/authorship)"

Sed somebody up there. That not only sucks, it is *unethical.*

What DA did to you in not unethical, but it sure is crappy. Your anger is righteous, and it completely makes sense that you don't feel able to work on it. You were totally pressured into doing it.

And can I just say that you having trouble getting it done feels like karma. For DA, that is. Like, this is what s/he gets for misusing his/her power and getting you to do this. S/He would *not* have approached you in this blindsiding fashion unless s/he has a sense that you would say no.

I call foul.