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Monday, March 20, 2006

All kinds of anxious

Apologies for the light and erratic posting of late. GWB was in town this weekend; I've got a fresh stack of papers to grade; I'm a little anxious about this campus interview; and I've been obsessing over something that my advisor said when I met with her last week.

I don't want to go into details, but suffice it to say that it has nothing to do with my scholarship (she was in fact extremely helpful and encouraging in that area), but rather with a matter of self-presentation. It's something that I'm sure she's right about, but that I can't exactly fix, or at least not in the near future. As an analogy: let's say that your advisor told you that you were overweight, and that you'd really look better if you weren't--and how hard could it be to lose some of those pounds?

In such a case, the comment might have been well-intentioned (at least deep down there somewhere), but it's a) not really the advice-giver's business, b) probably something that the advice-receiver already knows or fears, but that is c) quite likely out of her immediate control, whether for medical, personal, psychological, or a variety of other reasons.

But although I can't fix this problem, I also, now, can't stop thinking about it.

I wish I never had to leave my apartment again.


link | posted by La Lecturess at 4:29 PM |


17 Comments:

Blogger Tiruncula commented at 6:13 PM~  

Oh sweetie, what a pain. I HATE that kind of thing, and I hate even more the way it can so completely derail my sense of self. Hang in there. Your interviewers will love you just the way you are :)

Anonymous What Now? commented at 6:28 PM~  

Good grief, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine what the problem is that she's suggesting you "fix," and I know it's impossible for such "advice" not to get under your skin, but I hope that you can put her words out of your mind and concentrate on more positive things that give you confidence in yourself and your attractiveness as a candidate!

Blogger lucyrain commented at 7:37 PM~  

Wow. Your advisor fucked up on this one. Plain and simple.

Rally the self-esteem troops, LL. After (AFTER) the interview, if you feel so inclined, decide what you want to do about your advisor's "advice."

You may even say something to her like, "You know, that thing you said to me before my interview really threw me. It was not a helpful thing to say given the circumstances." Advisors should still be willing to learn from their advisees. And she deserves a spanking.

Blogger Margo, darling commented at 8:42 PM~  

When I was on the market, somewhere around year three, my advisor warned me that my high voice would be a liability on the market. I'm already totally self-conscious about my voice and try to make it lower whenever I can. Her comment put me over the top into serious crazytown. But I got her back like this:

The only time in my life I've ever really smoked was during that last year on the market--I seriously needed the power of nicotine to get me through a long, intense commute, long hours of teaching, and the panic of not knowing what in the hell was going to happen to my life. At some point she commented on this, with surprise, and warned me about the dangers of smoking. I shot back, you told me I needed to lower my voice if I was ever going to get a job, and this seemed like the best way to do it.

Okay, now that I write it out, it sounds like a stupid story, but she was seriously embarassed that she had said something so careless and devestating, and genuinely sorry that it had led me to such a dangerous vice. She also told one of my grad school friends, during a mock interview, that she smiled too much and that it would be disconcerting to people interviewing her. And crazy smiley-face and I, with the voice that makes dogs cry in pain, both got good jobs and are happy in our careers.

I'm so excited about your campus visit and am wishing you much luck and, if possible, a good smattering of joy while you are there--you seem to love what you teach and have a real passion for your research. It'll show.

Blogger undergroundprof commented at 8:56 PM~  

As a usual lurker, I'm going to come out right now so that I can tell you how important it is that you discuss this someone else -- some other faculty member somewhere. (At your current university? At your grad school one?) You need a third-party perspective, and you should probably get it before the interview. As a veteran job seeker and now a former job placement officer, I really strongly advise this. My guess is that a third-party can help you realize that you can feel good about leaving the apartment again.

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 10:03 PM~  

Thank you all, as usual, for making me feel (at least somewhat) better.

Margo, I *loved* your two stories--it's nice to know I'm not the only person so close to Crazytown that a strong wind will blow me over. This particular issue is one that's long made me extremely fretful & anxious, but that I'd mostly managed to convince myself that no one else really noticed or cared about. Guess I was wrong.

Undergroundprof: thanks for de-lurking! Unfortunately, this just isn't something that I can fix before my campus interview, so I'm reluctant to talk about it with someone who will likely just make me feel worse (either because they'll agree with Advisor or because I'll suspect that they're lying to me if they DON'T agree with her). But I'm hopeful that I can make improvements before next fall, whether I'm on the market or not.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 10:33 PM~  

Granted I know you socially and not professionally, but I am wracking my brain and cannot think of a single thing as far as first impressions or initial presentation that would make you seem anything other than beautiful, competent, and well-put together. Not one single thing.

sorry you have to deal with That Voice now though. We all have it, believe me.

-j-fav

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 12:11 AM~  

As your brother, I feel professionally qualified to comment on any negative qualities you might have, and I simply cannot imagine what on earth she could be talking about.

I would say "don't worry about it, just ignore her," but I suspect that's impossible and missing the point. Hopefully you're able to put it out of your head as much as possible though. I'm thinking maybe she's the only one who could notice or care? It seems like she goes out of her way to find fault, so perhaps she's having to dig deeper and deeper...

Incidentally, thanks for your message the other night and of course the gift... by which I mean the gift of NOT singing to me! When I saw the parentals were calling, I just took out my phone, set it on the kitchen counter, and hit the speakerphone button for all in the house to enjoy...

-scr

Blogger Oso Raro commented at 1:02 AM~  

The fact of the matter is that we are given the choice of the devil and the deep blue sea: too perfect and they'll think you're a Diva, too little and they think you're not serious. I've lost jobs because of my SHOES, for fuck's sake!

Time to become a womon Being In Total Control of Herself! Making sure you're on point about curriculum (anticipate their questions, especially those crappy ones like, "If you were to teach X, what would you use?"), the department's staffing and admin needs, service, your research agenda (blah blah blah) and practicing your presentation (!), These are much more important things than your look. Be professional, be smart, be fabulous, all of which you already are, and then play it as it lays. One can only be herself, and hope for the best.

Break a leg, doll!

Blogger Sfrajett commented at 1:29 AM~  

I think your advisor is threatened by you. And overidentifies with you at the same time. That comment is an all time low, and I have heard a lot of job market horror stories. Frack her. Listen to Margo. Listen to your brother. Don't let the idiots do a number on you. This bullshit is ridiculous. Some people like a woman who looks alive rather than afraid to take up space. Honest. Shine on, lecturess.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 11:17 AM~  

My advisor did the same thing with me and my acne (which really isn't that bad! I ususally have at least one whitehead, but I have no scarring and I'm not, like, disturbing to look at). Did he really think that as an adult professional I really hadn't tried to do anything about it?! That I was just to lazy to use some OxyClear? I wanted to cry; when you've tried Accutane and use expensive medicines and you *still* constantly have at least one embarassing zit, having your mentor point it out as a problem is devastating.

Anonymous rachel commented at 12:30 PM~  

i live in total fear of my advisor something like this to me. my gottdamn parents told me to take out my nosering before the interview for the job i know have, and freaked me out about not looking professional enough. i did the interview by teleconf in the end, and the nosering didn't show onscreen. i got the job in the end, but i know that if i hadn't, i'd always wonder if it was the nosering that cost me the job...

i agree with the rest -- try to listen to the positive voices around you. also, what your prof notices is not something that others necessarily take into account or count against you if noticed. for example, i recently gave a talk to an audience of senior academics. i had the stomach flu until literally 2 hours before, and was a bit off when it came to answering questions. the content was alright, but i inserted placeholders (like, you know, sort of) that i have trained myself out of using in academic speech, but which i fell back on when i was unable to properly focus on my presentation style. i trained myself out of it at the recommendation of my supervisor almost 4 years ago, and was worried that my use of them drew away from my performace. i decided to ask an ally senior acad who had been there what she thought. though she is not a native speaker and works in a 3rd and 4th language besides, her english is perfection, so i thought she'd notice if mine was crapass. she didn't, nor could she recall it at all when i brought it up. so there you go -- one person's concern is not necessarily another's.

in any case, good luck with the interview!

Blogger Black Sheepish commented at 12:34 PM~  

Oh no she di-int! Is this kind of thing COMMON with advisors?? I don't even let my mom get away with those kinds of criticisms... anymore. Heh.
Hell, I work in entertainment, and I've never even had an agent (not historically the nicest people) say anything like, "You know, you'd get more work if you were taller/thinner/less freckled"
I know you, too, gorgeous, and I know that when I describe you to others, the word "stylish" is always used - and you have that great voice! I know you respect her, but that was way out of line, and Mom-like in a bad way. Don't you give it another thought.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 1:25 PM~  

Everyone's covered all the important points, but I just wanted to quickly reply to anonymous' comment about acne. I have had all kinds of trouble with acne and last year found myself going out on a few campus interviews, acne and all. It didn't improve with all kinds of treatment short of accutane. When I was starting to think about accutane, I started using Neutrogena's on-the-spot treatment - a regimen pushed by a website that I think is something like acne.com.

Ok, I am getting really carried away but just wanted to send the word that this treatment is working very well and I am digging my new acne-free life. (PS - I had good success on the job market last year, even with the acne. Gives me hope that some hiring committees have thoughtful people who consider the whole candidate.)

Anonymous himself/herself may not have needed to hear all this - just getting on my little soapbox. LL, your former advisor sounds like a real piece of work. I think you would be a fantastic colleague to add to any department. (Well, within the proper field, that is.)

--akb

Blogger RH commented at 2:18 PM~  

What the fuck??? As someone who routinely interviews fat, smelly, lazy, Salvation-Army-clad unwashed librarians, I can't imagine what your advisor was thinking. She seriously must envy you or something. That's the only reason I can think of to remotely justify her unprofessional comments. Jesus Christ.

Blogger Ancrene Wiseass commented at 5:07 PM~  

Is it just me, or are women far more likely to get this kind of "the way you are is just wrong" criticism? And why do people think that kind of commentary is actually useful at all?

That seriously sucks, LL. I'm sorry.

Anonymous Anonymous commented at 9:00 AM~  

OK, I lurk on your blog weekly, and you don't know me from Eve, but I say tell your advisor to PISS OFF. What a horrible thing to say to you. She is way off base and I--as a truly fat chick--am totally indignant on your behalf. Grrr. Tell her you think her comment was unprofessional and out of line. Make sure she knows so she won't do it again!

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