If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, September 21, 2009

State of the Semester

I've really been feeling it this semester--more than the start of any other semester so far. Everyone around me--faculty and student alike--have been reporting the same. However I'm not sure if this is just the normal level of complaining. Every other semester I feel rather good and people around me complain and I--generally--ignore them. Now everyone is either agreeing with me and I'm agreeing with them. I feel like I've joined the pod people in The Stepford Wives, only instead of looking and acting perfect, we're all looking, feeling and acting miserable.

We're in the fifth week of the semester, which is about 1/3 of the way through. I don't think I can really call it the start of the semester anymore, and yet I don't really feel any better. Courses are stabilized now--students know what to expect from us and we know what to expect from them. Committee meetings are up and running; expectations and agendas are set and in motion. I don't think my workload is any greater than any other semester and, quite frankly, is lower than what it should be since I managed to trade a larger class for a much smaller one.

But yesterday something occurred to me. I worked very productively on my research all summer long. I did manage to relax and enjoy myself but I spent fairly full days working on my research and, more importantly, I made considerable progress. I think I developed a subconscious expectation of being able to do "my work" that consciously I know I cannot meet during the semester. My subconscious expectations have been ruling these past four weeks in spite of my best intentions. So I need to find away to adjust the subliminal pressure I put on myself early on in the semester. Acknowledging it is a good first step.

This realization does make me wonder if this means that the more productive I am in the summer the more likely it is I'll be miserable in the fall?


MFA Mama said...

I don't know, but if your misery wants some company I'm pretty much hating teaching this semester. I didn't have a terribly productive summer. Just not liking my classes, hating my grading, not feeling connected to any of my students, and blahhhhh...

phd me said...

My sentiments, exactly. I wouldn't say I'm miserable but these last few weeks have been tough. You make a very good point about summer productivity adding to the difficulty. I haven't touched my writing or research these last few weeks, after a summer of doing nothing but that. The disconnect wasn't obvious before but I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Julie said...

I'm sorry you're having a rough semester so far. I think acknowledging it is a good first step. The subliminal pressures are sometimes the worst ones, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier.