The grind and the guilt
Yesterday, AERA 2020 conference proposal were due (the American Education Research Association). We finished the quarter-system a month ago, two months before that, another round of conference proposals were due, and in two months, another round of conference proposals will be due again. Manuscript deadlines are often rolling, and pretty soon, we will be starting the academic job market season and post-doc applications, dissertation fellowships, and grant proposal deadlines will be just around the corner.
Did you feel anxious after reading that paragraph?
I do. And it has felt easy, for each run to exhaust myself, hop down. grab a drag of water, and then say: on to the next run, next project, next deadline, and not stop. Not stop to let my muscles (both physical and mental) rest. Not stop to catch my breath. Not stop to be still and enjoy the world outside. It feels easy, not in the actual work, but easy because my mentality is already in that mode. I'll admit I'm tired, while still punching in the speed and incline level for the run I'm about to do.
I think academia slowly socializes us to be non-stop marathon runners, with the finish line always moving just out of our reach, with a landscape of guilt for wanting to take breaks along the way. The sense of urgency for our research, especially research on critical issues, oppression, racism, violence to communities of color—these are real, and I am not advocating for us to ignore pressing issues or ignore our communities through coded language of "self-care". But what I am advocating for is the detox of guilt and a reimagination of the grind. Small things I've been trying for the past couple of months include:
In a year, I read somewhere around 100-200 books. I don't have a TV and I use reading as a form of escape, and I especially like reading outside of academia. It also helps with improving my writing :)
When I'm trying to concentrate, I like having background music that's super dramatic. For some reason, instrumental music is instrumental (pun!) in helping me concentrate. Most of the songs are Korean-drama OSTs (original sound tracks), w/ a few classical music scores in the mix!
I don't categorize anything other than my "random round-ups" because it takes too much work (insert laughing emoji).