Dear readers, hello! I have missed this little cyber spot, I have missed you, and I’m glad to be here and writing something that’s not academic, that’s not going to be graded, and that has nothing to do with my thesis research or my future work.
…well, actually perhaps this does have to do with all of that? See, I’ve spent this past semester of grad school playing on a strange binary scale that I’ve forced myself into and since I’ve had some time to decompress from last semester I’ve been thinking and ruminating about how I see myself, the labels I assign myself, and just how limiting that can be.
So let me take you back in time just a bit and recap all of life since January:
Grad school started and I made shows and wrote papers and had seminars and slept only a little bit, hardly showered (it’s nearly impossible in grad school), and thankfully had my Mister Brooklyn by my side to set plates of food on my desk on the days I would hole up to study and write for hours on end. Grad school was intense and I hardly spoke to my friends or family and there were a number of times I thought I should quit. But thank heavens for my dear ladies of grad school; together we cried and lamented and freaked out about the whole process. In short: grad school was exactly as it should have been—challenging, humbling, rewarding.
Let me talk to you about challenging:
Tuesdays at 9 am I found myself in the belly of the Center for the Arts building where I had my historiography seminar. Those mornings were early and I always thought to myself, “I am just not a morning person” as I drove to campus grumpy and under-slept. As I found myself settling into my seat, pulling out papers and pens, my professor would greet us by saying “good morning historians!” She would sometimes ask us questions like, “what kind of historian are you?” “How does your voice as a historian come through in your writing?” Those questions tended to rub me the wrong way; often I would think or say out loud that I am not a historian and that I don’t identify that way. I hated being labeled something I felt I was not.
Often during the semester faculty members sent out email blasts for a number of theatre conferences call for papers, opportunities to be published in academic circles, or opportunities to present our research at symposiums on campus. I hated these too—I would think to myself, “I am not an academic and don’t want to be published or share my research.” And this even came up in my historiography seminar; my professor asked us if we were seeking out opportunities to get published or speak on panels. I of course didn’t hesitate to say that I was not, that I was looking for opportunities to make theatre, to direct, and to figure out my own method of crafting work.
Do you see a pattern here, dear reader? It’s ok if you don’t. I didn’t see it at first either. It wasn’t until well into the semester, when I got feedback from my historiography professor on an assignment. “I think you might be operating in a binary track of being an artist or an academic. Can’t you be both? It can be limiting to categorize yourself in such a way.”
I am not a morning person. I am not a historian. I am not an academic.
I said and thought these things over and over for the past 5 months. And as I am writing this now, I am reminded that our thoughts and our words are powerful. The more I continue to tell myself I am not an academic, the more I continue to believe that I don’t fit into a scholarly world and I limit myself and what I can create. Perhaps the more accurate thing to tell you, dear readers, is that I don’t feel comfortable in an academic setting all of the time–I feel intimidated and sometimes stilly and even (as is the ever constant feeling during grad school) like I am a complete imposter. All of those are just fleeting feelings though.
And so, since the semester has ended and I have ruminated on that comment from my historiography professor I realize she is right, to say I am this or that limits my potential. Have you found yourself in a similar place too, is there that one thing you’ve been dying to try but find yourself thinking “I’m just not one of those types, I could never…”
Maybe you just need to wake up at 9 am and sit in an early morning class where you sometimes say things like “I am not a this or I am not a that” and find that shining person to gently remind you that you are indeed a great many things and that you are the type to do the thing you’ve been dreaming up for yourself. You are, dear reader, so many things. And if you don’t have the 9 am class, you’ve always got this here blog to remind you.
Happy summer friends!