Hello, intertubes! I disappeared again. My doctor and I were fucking around with my medication again – which has been to my net benefit, but gave me a month or so of reduced coping capacity. I’m facing the fact that I need an extension on this thesis, which feels silly for what was supposed to be just a filler degree before moving on to bigger and better things. But fact is, I like it, I want to do it justice, and perhaps the most important things I’m learning out of this degree are not the things I thought they were.
I’ve learned a lot of gender theory. I’ve learned some Latin, and sharpened my Old French, and learned that I love teaching.
I’m learning, again, how to write a long project. But this time, I’m consciously thinking about how to do that work while sick; without screwing over my other responsibilities; while doing what I can to preserve my health. I’m learning not to pin my entire functionality – “I might be sick but goddamn it I will write this thesis and everything else can go jump”, aka, Highly During Honours – on one piece of work. It worked during Honours; it’s not going to work for the rest of my life, and I might as well get out of the habit now.
A few weeks ago ADM talked to the writing group (in which I am just scraping by, checking in most weeks and not engaging much, but it’s helping me structure thing sin my head) about pacing. I quote:
Add those things together, and then the somewhat insane sort of schedule that many of us have, plus the fact that my body has been rebelling against my life in a fairly serious way since the end of July, and you get a very different reading of “pace yourself.” Where some people got sort of Bolshie and focused on the part where they thought they were being told to work according to a certain pattern, I only saw the metaphor of the race, and the physical connection to what it is we are doing. Because for me, pacing myself isn’t just about making sure I get things done on time, or organize my schedule in a way that I don’t have to play catch-up. It’s that if I don’t pace myself, there seem to be very real and very bad physical consequences. And those physical consequences can snowball and then create a vicious cycle of bad, overused metaphors being too ill to work, getting too stressed because I’m not accomplishing anything, and then doing really unhealthy things to my body in order to try to catch up.
To which I only have to say: yes, this. I’m pretty shit at this self-management lark right now, but I know now this is something I really need to learn; I expect to come good, healthwise, sooner or later, but I don’t expect to stay that way forever.
So one thing I’ve had to do recently is talk to my superiors and sort out extensions: because I could tunnel-vision and finish this fast, but that wouldn’t be good for me, the work, or this process of learning how to manage my time and health.
Teaching comes in handy here. I make a big deal out of telling my students to apply for extensions and assistance when they need them. To talk to me before they absent fail their way out of the course. I make a big deal out of telling them that very few people, faculty or administration, are out to be mean to them, and by and large, if you have reasonable justification and can figure your way through the extension system, you’re going to get some kind of concessions.
I can’t exactly stand up in front of a class and tell it’s silly to be too ashamed to apply for help you actually need if I don’t take my own advice, can I?