Haskell Murray and Anne Tucker recently blogged quite engagingly about their Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). They made me feel old--not only because of these newfangled acronyms, but also because I remember feeling that way myself. I found particularly brave their articulation of the suspicion that they weren't "good enough" and had somehow lucked into the job. I remember feeling that way, too, and I have a sneaking suspicion that there are 2 kinds of junior faculty members: 1) those who think they're not really as smart as everyone else, and 2) those who really aren't as smart as everyone else. "Arrogance" is just a few letters away from "ignorance."
But I digress. I remember feeling this way, and I had a mentor give me excellent advice my first year:
Just say no.
At least, your default answer should be "no." To my chagrin, I realized something at the end of my first year of teaching: This job has infinite demands. There are 3 elements to it: teaching, scholarship, and service. You could devote every waking moment to your teaching, and still have more you could do. Ditto for service. Ditto to the nth degree for scholarship: always another talk you could attend, an article you could read. But you can't do those things and write. At least, I can't. You have to get used to always feeling like there's more you can do. You'll feel guilt, but you have to make your peace with it.
I set boundaries for myself, like trying not to travel more than once a month while classes are in session. But the best piece of advice I got was that your default answer should be "no."
P.S. Haskell, I'd love for people to think that I'm some kind of superwoman, but that was my schedule for a brief period of my life. Baby #3 started sleeping through the night at about 6 months. Hallelujah!
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