A trillion thanks to my FB friend Beth who shared this awesome post of 10 Academic Survival Tips from The Crunk Feminist Collective. You should go read the whole thing even if you’re not planning on grad schooling it in the near future – these are life skills, yo. And there are my top 3 favorite ones:
Be confident in your abilities.
- If you feel like a fraud, you very likely are suffering from impostor syndrome, a chronic feeling of intellectual or personal inadequacy born of grandiose expectations about what it means to be competent. Women in particular suffer with this issue, but I argue that it is worse for women-of-color (particularly Blacks and Latinas) who labor under stereotypes of both racial and gender incompetence. The academy itself also creates grandiose expectations, given the general perception of academicians as hypercompetent people. Secret: Everybody that’s actin like they know, doesn’t really know. So ask your question. It’s probably not as stupid as you think. Now say this with me: “I’m smart enough, my work is important, and damn it, I’m gonna make it.”
Or as the Aged P so supportively says, “Trust your voice.” I do – I trust it when it aims for the high D and I trust it when it sits down to tell a story it believes in. I can do something special and dammit, I’m going to. It got me into this school and it’s going to get me through it.
Be your own best advocate. Prioritize your own professional needs/goals.
- You have not because you ask not. You have to be willing to ask for what you need. . .
- Figure out your writing process (the place [home, coffee shop, library], time [morning, afternoon, night], and conditions [background noise, total silence, cooler or warmer] under which you work best and try to create those conditions as frequently as possible during finals, qualifying exams, and dissertation.
- Your self-advocacy will often be misperceived as aggression and anger, entitlement or selfishness. Don’t apologize.
This one is so apt for me – I love to take a problem, squirrel it away in the crazybrain’s attic and fret until I think I’ve figured out an answer, lost a good night’s sleep, burned a hole in my stomach or ragecried about it. When the truth is, I can just ASK and people will TELL ME. I’m excited to find a writing process that really helps me produce good things – in undergrad, I spent a lot of time hiding in the library AV department and I WILL NOT HIDE. But I do want to find a good library spot that gets me in the zone.
Be willing to get CRUNK!
- If the environment is hostile, it is most probably characterized by microaggressions of various sorts. Racial microaggressions –“brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color– are quite common for women of color, but microaggressions can be used in sexist, heterosexist, or ableist ways as well. A microaggressive environment demands resistance of various sorts. So do you and be you. Unapologetically. Keep a copy of Sister Audre near by so you can make sure you’re channeling your legitimate anger productively, and then, get crunk if necessary.
One of the reasons I chose this school and this program is because I believe it is a supportive atmosphere where people are generous and good to one another. Orientation proved that it is still not that diverse, racially or gender-wise, and I have a chip on my shoulder about some of White Dude Canon we’re reading. But it’s up to me to make the most of it and to seek change where and if I can. And while standing up to microaggression has never been an area of want for me (if anything, I need to pick my battles), I do need extra encouragement to be myself. I don’t need to put on the MKP show or play to different crowds. It’s ok to say “you can read about it in my next essay” rather than going into my life story, or to gently deflect a question, or to speak up and say “WTF! Just because I think Jon Hamm is the dreamiest dream ever to dream doesn’t mean I am not a sophisticated and well-informed critic.”
This year has already been huge. It’s about to get huger. New plan, new school, new relationship. I am so excited, you guys. I’ll try to keep checking in regularly on my bloggy home away from home – follow me on twitter if you don’t already and you’ll know where I’m at. Possibly before I do.