learning to know

Do you ever have those moments where the pressure you feel (from yourself, work, responsibilities, significant others or some other external force) creates so much turmoil in you that you don't see clearly how completely simple something you thought was so complicated can be? The realization of the simplicity hits you like someone punched you in the stomach and you feel as if you've been in a daze; well that's what happened to me anyway. That's what it felt like to me. I've been preparing for Comps which is in itself terrifying. For me it's terrifying because I find it difficult to trust myself, to feel confident in the fact that I've been studying for this since I began the program and that I do actually know something. Yesterday in our Psychoanalytic Reading Group, Breu brought up the idea that there's always a fear in knowing, that we oscillate between the desire to know and the fear of knowing.

Talking to Julie afterwards we got on the subject of Comps. I'll pretend like it was casually brought up in conversation even though I probably consciously steered our discussion there because I wanted advice. She related some of her own experience with her exams and really helped me to understand what I was struggling with in the English Studies synthesis. Later, Oren and I were talking about reading Kristeva and her work on melancholia. I told Oren he should write his Comps on melancholia. When he asked how, I laid out the process Julie had explained and Oren said, "You've just laid out my dissertation." I faux curtsied and said, "Happy to help."

I realized that this process is making me trust myself, something I struggle with constantly. Julie's advice shocked me out of my daze. It seems so clear now.

And this is why I like the program here. Because professors who aren't your advisors or mentors, with whom you may have never taken a class, are interested in what you're doing and willing to advise you, share their experience and remind you to breathe. And that makes a difference to graduate students. It makes a difference to me, anyway. So, thanks Julie.