Earlier this week, I submitted my dossier. Also known as a tenure report, this document outlines a faculty member's efforts and accomplishments in research, teaching, and service. Dossier components, requirements, structures, and formats will differ by institution and even by department. Mine was a 20-pager with specific outlined sections and guiding considerations, while others have shared with me that theirs are 5-pager or outlines or even modified CVs with a bit of explanation. (As an FYI: the three-year dossier and the one you submit to go up for tenure are known as "the big ones," but many institutions ask pre-tenure faculty to submit one annually).
What I didn't expect the dossier to be, as I worked on mine, was a rollercoaster of emotions in two ways. First, despite me consistently reminding my students to give ourselves grace for the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing racism; adjusting requirements for classes; and supporting students in modifying their expectations for themselves, I did not do the same for myself. Instead, I quickly spiraled into the "Well, I should have been doing" and "I can't believe I didn't do" self-talk that helps no one. I know many of you can relate and have done the same. Second, the process was emotional because I actually did do a lot. And you'd think that the second point would counteract the first point, but it didn't. I did a lot in things... I hadn't been counting. I didn't count them because I didn't count me. At some point during the semester, I stopped thinking I mattered. I cannot overstate how hard this transition has been, while recognizing that I have not written about it much either (in part, because I'm not quite ready to). I spent the past semester, my first ever semester as a faculty member in a new city, new institution, feeling like I failed at every aspect of my job. I know and know and know that I didn't fail. And yet, I still felt that feeling of failure to my core.
Yesterday, I learned that the term "imposter syndrome" was originally coined as "imposter phenomenon." I'll be sure to use the latter from now on, in the continuous reminder that my feelings of failure, a reflection and manifestation of imposter phenomenon, is a construction.
Of course it is.
As so many brilliant scholars have stated, higher education wasn't built for me, for people of color, for women, disabled folx, for trans folx, for so many many identities. Writing the dossier was grappling with how far I had convinced myself that I didn't belong. Despite my best efforts and even ironic ways I study and critique and analyze dysfunction, the dysfunctional socialization of academia, and even via the communication I have with students reminding them how much they belong here (because they do!), I had wrapped my identity in this 20-page document. What a ride. I obviously finished the document. Because I had to (ha!). AND because of a tremendous community that refuses to let me be less than, even when self-determined. Today, marks the halfway of week 2 in the second semester (still in the first year). In some weird way, I'm thankful in how the year 1 dossier gave me a solid moment of reflection, despite the rollercoaster. I'll carry these lessons a little closer to my heart as I finish out my first year and start working on the year 2 version.
P.S. As a pro-tip from Dr. Kakali Bhattacharya, make sure when writing a dossier, to have a conceptual framework that guides the narrative of who you are as a scholar.
Having spent 2019 intentionally reading Womxn of Color, I'm carrying the same intention into 2020. Check out my bookshelf of some of my faves and send me recs!
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).