Being a scholar, an “academic,” allows me to meld my daily life into whatever I study. Even the most mundane of experiences can augment the way that I’m approaching a question or a problem that I’m seeing in my historical work. I see this as an asset, as an important skill that I bring to the table. However, it can also be a bit wearying. I feel the weight of the unfinished dissertation pulling me constantly. It’s always there in the back of my mind, even in my most carefree of moments.
I tend to be very good at “turning off” the dissertation mind on weekends–meaning I can put my work behind me and just enjoy the family or the garden or some solitude. But on weekdays I’m not so good at it. There’s just always more I should be doing, or at least I feel that weighing into my decision-making.
One reason I love being out on the water with my outrigger team is that when I’m handling the boat, I don’t have the mental space for the dissertation. It’s just ‘gone’ for those few hours. There’s a lightness and freedom in that. But as soon as I’m off the ocean, it’s there again.
I’m not complaining. I love my life, I love being engaged in my work. I love graduate school–fiercely, even. But sometimes I wonder how the constant pull & tug of stress makes it difficult for me to enjoy the now and is a barrier to saying YES to today and this moment.
For those of you who’ve taken a similar path, can you offer any advice?