So my grad program wants to know: what have I accomplished this year?
First, I made a lot of mistakes.
I spent too much time comparing myself to my colleagues, measuring myself against an imaginary standard that I manufactured in my spare time and spoon-fed with paranoia.
I spent too much time listening to certain people in my life, both in academia and not. Wasted too many brain cells trying to apply logic to things they said that made no sense then, that make no sense now, and that ultimately don’t mean a damn thing.
I didn’t spend as much time on some readings as I should have, spend more time on others than they really deserved.
At conferences, I didn’t go to enough panels. Didn’t talk to enough people.
I put myself down too often.
I forgot to press “save” more than once.
Dicked around too much, in general.
Waited until the last minute to start my work when I sure as hell knew better. Not all the time, but at least one too many.
Didn’t talk enough in some classes. Talked too much in others.
I got up too early, too often.
Didn’t spend enough time with my students’ texts or spent far, far too much.
I drank too much coffee. Ate too much bad food. Didn’t take up smoking.
Didn’t drink enough booze.
I wasted too much time not writing.
But then, I made some good choices, too.
I presented at my first conference and managed to write something, to say something, that sounded like me: funny and sarcastic and smart.
Presented at a second and, when the room wasn’t as friendly, that time, I didn’t beat myself up about it.
I said “thank you” when people praised my writing, my thinking, my teaching. Didn’t question or try to talk my way out of the compliment. Just said “thanks.”
I said “thank you” when someone told me “You can do better,” because she was right.
I was a little too honest a little too often and, man, was it good.
I started watching Supernatural.
I started writing slash fic and, damn, has that changed my life.
People I don’t know, will never know except via the internet, read my writing and liked it and even came back for more, even saw more in my texts than I did, than I can, than I could.
I remembered how to learn strategically, how to get what I need from a text and move on to the next.
I became myself, in my teaching.
I discovered porn studies and critical discourse analysis and feminist film theory.
I submitted abstracts without fear because, hey, the worst they can say is “no.”
[Or is that “yes”?]
I had colleagues ask me to submit panels with them and said “yes” instead of “why?”
I had papers accepted at a hardcore feminist conference, at pop culture fests in the US and in Switzerland, at a grad conference, at a regional MLA deal.
I didn’t listen when some people gave me misguided–if well-intentioned–advice about my academics, my career, my once-and-future “marketability.”
I accepted that other people in my academic life might actually mean it when they offer help, or guidance, or direction. And that these people might be good advocates, for me. That they want to be, if I’ll let them.
I interviewed my academic idol, saw the mask fall, and figured out that I have to hack out my own path as a scholar. Figured out that douchebaggery can trap, can take even the best of us.
I embraced my inner Rage Cat and then learned how to let him go.
I said “yes” more than I said “no.”
I wrote a love(d) letter and got back something, someone that I’d lost.
I stopped waiting for someone to give me permission to do what I want to do in my research and just–did it.
I realized that I might have something to say, after all, and that some people might want to listen.
I became a writer.
I became “KT.” Or “CC,” all at once.