Wednesday, September 14, 2011

learning to struggle well

Earlier this week, I was lamenting the fact that I seem to be doing grad school "wrong" because, no matter how many long days I put in or even how much sleep I sacrifice, I don't seem to get things done. Unlike many of my colleagues, I don't have little kids and I don't have to work part-time for a faculty member, yet I feel like I'm constantly behind, never able to get on top of the reading and research load.

Putting aside the question of whether my peers really are accomplishing that much more than me (maybe I just have really poor "faking it" skills?), I think the real problem is my perfectionist streak rearing its ugly head again; but even more than that, I wonder if it's my old problem of expecting grad school to be like a medieval monastery.

Yes, that sounds weird. What I mean is, I tend to assume that theology is something that is really only learned if it is chewed on and mulled over, rather like monks ruminating for days on short texts of Scripture. Internalizing truth like that takes patience and discipline -- which I can have -- but it also requires the luxury of time, which a grad student rarely does. As I've reflected before, if I haven't read slowly and deeply, I usually feel I haven't learned.

The thing is, though, I am not a monk. (Or, well, a nun.) And just because I'm studying theology doesn't change the fact that I am a grad student and that grad school will never be a monastery. I need to learn to let grad school be what it is, and learn to excel at that. Maybe even find joy and beauty in it.

Crazily enough, that shift of attitude this week seems to have helped -- a little. I've been pulling crazy hours of intense work, and while it's always messier, more rushed, and less meditative than I would like, I think I'm thriving. And maybe that is less because the situation is "ideal" and more because I'm just doing what has been given me to do.

1 comment:

  1. I find that I am more motivated to do anything when I don't have the idea that it has to be perfect (I am also a perfectionist.) Keep up the good work!