Monday, May 30, 2016

The March Toward Full: Shame

I should have made "full" long ago!

I can't believe I can't get writing!

I have no original ideas?

My field has passed me by!

It would be awful to admit that I need help with my writing at this point of my career!

These are but a few of the shame-based/shame-inducing things that I have heard from associate professors who feel stuck. Those whose careers have not progressed the way they had hoped often feel ashamed and demoralized. They have let themselves, and their colleagues, down.

In response they pour themselves into extra service, hoping that this  good citizenship provides evidence to themselves and other that they are worthy. Sadly, this overcompensation can perpetuate a vicious cycle of taking on tasks and roles that are less fulfilling, and make it hard to move toward the type of work that some wish to do.

Others feel ashamed that they are not writing and publishing, but really don't wish to write and publish much. They also do a good deal of service, but they like their service, and feel this is really where they wish to put their energy. Sadly, they still judge themselves, and find themselves progressively unhappy, often thinking about leaving higher education.

Both "types" suffer from the internalization of standards and expectations that keep them from feeling good about their careers. Both need some help to sort out the painful, self-downing messages that keep them stuck. Sadly, they also may have internalized the individualistic ideal of the academe-I must do this alone.

Getting over such shame-based messages means you are going to have to open up to someone about them, to process them, and to engage in some reprogramming. With whom you do this work, and how you do it, is up to you, but you owe it to yourself to do it!

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