Monday, December 12, 2016

Do I Make A Difference?

A few weeks ago, I accidentally "published" the title of this post before I wrote anything in the body! I meant to save it as a draft, and come back to it later (something I frequently do when I have ideas for posts).

It was very touching, I received several emails and "comments" from readers saying that I did, indeed, make a difference. If that was you, thank you :).

Now, however, to the issue I really want to address, which honestly did not have to do with any insecurity around my impact on the world.

On the other hands, that really is the issue. Not my impact, but the belief that one should only do work that is going to be transformative.


Cutting edge.

Difference maker.



Starting to feel anxious even reading those expectations?

Over many years of working with scholars, I have listened to many that must publish work that makes a difference. From an ethical standpoint, this is great. Who does not want to make a difference? This is the reason why I choose to publish on the criminalization of immigration and immigration detention and its relationship to my field, social work.

The problem is that too many scholars who hold these expectations produce very little work, and not because they are taking their time and improving the quality for their scholarship. Too often, the bars that they set for themselves become shackles on their ability to write freely, stay in process, and paradoxically, do excellence work. These expectations take on a life of their own, and become constellations of beliefs that are horribly limiting.

Key words for cognitions that impede our process? Should. Must. It is called, Masterbation.

When I say I am not interested in my impact, what I mean is that all I can do is put myself out there, do solid work, and let the external world judge me.  Metaphorically, I make belts. I put up dry wall.

The impact that I have really is not something I can control. I can do my research, submit it, move on to the next piece, repeat.

And repeat. Year after year.

It is the culmination of our work that will be judged by others. I prefer to do the best I can in each moment, keep growing and changing, and learn to "be" with my work.

And if my scholarship makes a significant contrition?


If not, I can be of service to others, pet my dogs, love my kids, enjoy this precious bit of life we are given.