... when it seems like you can't get anything done, and truly are your worst enemy. The logic goes something like this: "Well, I can't start writing this, because I'm not done with that part of it; where do I start then? But oh, can I do that? What if I can't do that? Is this the next best thing to do? I don't know if it is, so maybe I won't start there. Okay, so because (I think) I don't know what to do here, I'll just skip to the internet and poke around there..." And after an hour or so of reading news articles, and beating myself up for doing so, instead of "getting work done," I start to feel like I'm a fraud and a cheat, and like I don't deserve to be here, and I'm a fake, because surely this can't mean 'doing research.' And someone's going to call me out on it. Well, the reading articles on the internet sure isn't, unless they're vaguely linked to your thesis, but frequently they aren't. But thinking about novel ecosystems and the social construction of nature and how scientists study the mountain pine beetle, in my case, very much is! So much of doing qualitative research is iterative, with learning happening at various points and stages, some unpredictable, and there's always a gradual, almost imperceptible set of changes around the ideas that I'm forming, that my biggest job, sometimes, is keeping track of those changing ideas.
So, we all have bad days where we psych ourselves out of being able to get things done. I woke up with a headache this morning (which on its own, doesn't happen often), and that certainly doesn't help.
I think when we get into these ruts, I go back to making really simple goals, small tasks, starting from somewhere, because it's definitely better that getting stuck nowhere, with the Impostor Syndrome and the cycling, downward spiral of the psychological game that that is.
And, it's not easy to deal with at the best of times. I've been having a lousy work week, and finally yesterday I had a brief blip of light: I received a letter in the mail (an unexpected form for the message I was waiting for), that I had been appointed to the Environmental Advisory Committee of my local municipality. I had applied for this position via email over a month ago, and was waiting to hear. It was great news. I certainly think there are limits (and perhaps dangers) to depending on outside reassurance that I am capable and competent, but for now, it certainly is helpful. But a personal, ongoing project will need to be learning how to internalize my successes and achievements, so that I don't need to start from square one all over again. I am competent, and can achieve things, and be a part of something bigger than myself, along with other people who care about and share similar goals as me. Recognizing this doesn't mean that I can't be wrong, or can't make mistakes; all of those places are opportunities to learn something. With enough evidence and good arguments, we should always be open to changing our minds.
So. Here's to heading back to my follow-up interviews and having a good go at them.