When I saw Advisor last month we spent some time chatting about other INRU grad students and recent PhDs, some of them her advisees and some not. In discussing the current project of one high-achieving woman, Advisor said, quite pleasantly and matter-of-factly, "Now she just has to finish it up. She does have a way of letting her personal life get in the way of her work."
I smiled and didn't say anything, in part because I think I know by now that Advisor tends to hedge even her compliments with negatives (and because I know that the woman in question is entirely on track and doing very good work). But I also know at least a couple of the recent events in this woman's "personal life," one quite bad and one very good, and they're events that would be time-consuming and delaying for anyone. So internally I shook my head and thought, "What's this about 'letting' one's personal life affect one's work? Who can help it?"
Well. There's what we think and. . . there's what we think. Because here I am, with the summer half gone, and I'm not at all sure what I've gotten done. I've transcribed those two MSS--which are actually for a back-burner project--and I've done a reasonable although by no means impressive amount of reading for both my current chapter and a new article. But I've only just resumed my actual writing, and although it's entirely possible that I could completely revise my chapter and pull it together before summer's end (as well as cranking out a conference paper and a couple of abstracts) that's not at all certain.
But is this about my personal life? In some ways that's what I'd like to blame, and it's true that I got virtually no work done for the two or three weeks right after my breakup. . . but then again, it was still May, and I had guests in town and travel of my own, so it's unclear to what degree that event was actually responsible. For the past month I've averaged only about one truly bad day a week, but I have felt generally lethargic, easily distracted, and unmotivated.
Is that related? Is that just summer? Or is it just me?
I'm not sure, in the end, if I'd be more okay with my (possibly) slower progress this summer if I believed it to be due to personal drama. In other people's lives, I think I’m quite understanding of the effects of emotional and psychological stress; I've been told, anyway, that I'm a sympathetic listener and a good cheerer-up. But I've never been so tolerant when it comes to my own problems--and it's not about my work ethic so much as it is about my frustration with my perceived irrationality. So I find myself walking around and talking to myself, saying things like, "What, you're crying now? That's stupid. You've been cheery for the last week. Aren't you supposed to be over this? Seriously. There are people out there with real problems."
Yeah. Sometimes I think I actually am my advisor.