Wednesday, May 02, 2007

the unbearable vastness of being

About a year ago, I was in charge of a team meeting at work. This particular team begins every meeting with an icebreaker. On this occasion, I chose to ask my colleagues to develop a motto for themselves that captured their essence. These people came up with very nice mottos, having to do with their lives and personalities. Mine was equally appropriate: "Unhealthily obsessed with knowing everything."

In the last year, I've come to accept the impossibility, and the true detrimental effects of such an orientation, at least in the context of a harried graduate student who works full time. Not only that, but the better I understand anything, the better I understand nothing.

For multiple reasons, this past year has been nothing but a constant scramble. I have had no time for relaxing, unable to do so even when I was supposed to be. I haven't even really had time to think about my goals beyond finishing grad school, and even that is in jeopardy. This is partly due to the fact that I have a tendency to elevate everything to the level of a high priority. I also tend to have different priorities than those which my employers would like. As such, the last 8 months have been very frustrating. Kicking and screaming, I've given up nearly all my hobbies. I don't spend time working on my blog or researching and writing great posts, because that energy all belongs to work. In fact, even the energy I'd like to put into my thesis has belonged to work for the past two months. Now I've got less than three weeks to write another chapter so I can get a "satisfactory progress" on my project, and I'm simply not sure that can happen. Thesis development is simply not a mindless process. Sadly, there's no synergy between my work and my project that might otherwise have afforded me good thinking on the this front, and I find myself completely drained at the end of the day.

I've hit a wall. I've been wondering what happened to me. I used to be so good at this. Actually, what's occurred to me is that I need work and school to mirror each other better in order to work more quickly. Juggling 80-bazillion projects every day, then coming home and needing to quiet my mind for focused concentration is very nearly impossible for me. This frustration, driven by fear, feeds my compulsion to accumulate information as well, as the secret to stress-free productivity has got to be out there somewhere.

I've run out of options and excuses though. It's do or die time. Expect a lot of blogging about value-added modeling and teacher quality from here on out. I've got to use this space for dual purposes!

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