When I originally started this blog, I had envisioned sharing intimate details of my scholarly journey with readers. Transparency is important to me in many aspects of my life. Sharing experience is important, I think, and a way to create a sense of understanding and coalition. But the further along I’ve come in grad school, the less inclined I’ve felt to write about my experiences, though I read and appreciate those who have done so before me. The primary thing that stops me is fear.
Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of being wrong. Fear of being judged. I think being vulnerable is important. But it is ever so difficult to actually be vulnerable. But as I work steadily on my comprehensive exam list, I am confronted with things I’d like to say (not to mention comments on current affairs). But I am struck afraid. Afraid of being wrong. This is something built into the structures of academia. We call it imposter syndrome. As we study, we become more aware of what we don’t know, and we question our belonging among the intelligensia. Funnily enough, those who worry are usually those who should worry the least. But I’m getting off track.
I am afraid of being wrong. Further, I am afraid of being disliked (something being wrong can be connected to). The fear of being disliked is steeped in gender, culture, and personal experience. I am always too much. I am always too opinionated. I am always too selfish. I am always… unlikeable. Or so I tell myself. I’ve heard versions of these things from various people along the way, and they’ve taken insidious root in my psyche.
Fear of being disliked is closely linked to fear of being judged and the fear of being alone. I want to be alone, and yet I also want to be wanted. But the state of being “too much” often precludes me from this, or so I think. Lest you think I am talking romantically, I am not. I am talking professionally. I am talking platonically.
But then again maybe all of these fears are just fears of being vulnerable. Being vulnerable means you’ve felt deeply about something, and you’ve let people see that. That’s one of the bravest things one can do. And the most difficult.