I tweeted earlier tonight “The further I get in my PhD program, the riskier it feels to publish a blog post.”
This is entirely true. When I was writing for class, I not only had readily provided topics to blog about, but I had a deadline and the illusion of a limited audience. Before September 2011, blog posts were a way of chewing on thoughts that didn’t fit within the scope of my job as Research Database and Records Manager. These days, however, I have so many other things taking up my time: I now work full time at RRCHNM, I’m writing my dissertation prospectus while also trying to do some secondary research, I plan to do my comprehensive oral exams in April, and I also have a life beyond work and school.
I can come up with ideas for posts, but I have trouble making the time to smooth out the ideas from a few rough sentences into something that feels safe to put out into the world. It is, as a I tweeted, an odd combination of being aware of how wide an audience my posts might now have and the impostor syndrome which is apparently all too common in graduate school. And apparently I’m not alone in my anxiety: thus far, that tweet has 12 favorites and 2 retweets, along with a whole host of responses.
The responses were more than just “me too.” There was sympathy, empathy, examinations of why we all feel such stumbling blocks about blogging. They have kept coming as a I started to write this post, which is part of why I’m still writing it.
I was going to try and sit down to write about this past weekend, when I went to the Southern in the person of Megan Brett, Graduate Student Representative of the Southern Association for Women Historians. How I attended a panel titled “Mentoring Women” and listened to professors talk about trying to help young women find their place in the academy, realizing as I listened that I’ve never doubted that place. My mother was a professor, my advisers at the BA, MSc, and PhD level are all women, and there has always been a host of intelligent, witty women in my life who have encouraged me, even by their mere presence. I have, in that regard, been very lucky.
And as I tweeted, I am lucky to have a supportive community (of persons of all gender identities) online and in person who reach out when I doubt myself, to say “I’ve been there” and “You can do it.” Knowing those people are out there makes a huge difference. The communities we have are a huge resource in doing what we love, whether that’s getting a PhD, being a historian, teaching, or running a shop.