Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Applying the 80/20 relationship rule to Academia...

So, I have a paper due tomorrow, but of course I'm procrastinating, hence me writing this blog. This topic has been on my mind for about a week and a half now. If you've read my blog in the past you know that I liken my relationship in academia to that of a romantic relationship a lot. This topic is no different.

What's the 80/20 rule?

"In our relationships, our partner is most likely only able to offer 80% of what we need. There are times when we will find someone who fills in the wholes, offering the other 20%…and because it’s been missing for so long, you think you’ve finally found what you truly need. But be carefully taking risks of cheating, or leaving your 80%…because what you will be left with, is that 20%. Obviously this is no where near as fulfilling as being with someone who offers 80%."

When your relationship is going great you rarely miss the other 20%, but when it gets rocky you meet someone who offers that 20% without realizing that they're lacking the 80% your other half provides you with. So, how does this all relate back to academia?

The last few weeks have been trying in my academic career... I've had to deal w/ some things that I wasn't prepared for at all and it had me contemplating quitting. I have had serious thoughts about waiting for my Master's to be official and heading out onto the job market just to get away. I even told my mom and my significant other that I needed a break from this world... but then I thought about all my friends who complain about their jobs (not careers)... many of them are in the process of applying for graduate programs and envy where I am right now.

I realized that right now I'm unhappy w/ my relationship w/ academia right now, so anything else looks better, but is it really worth it? Is it worth it to quit the PhD program and get a non-tenure track job? Would quitting and getting a job be the 20% or the 80% for me? I'm convinced that quitting would not only be a cop-out it would also be the 20%, and a few years down the line I would be crying that I didn't finish the PhD.

So, I'm sticking it out w/ my 80%... I'm gonna keep pushing and working on the relationship to ensure myself happiness :)

I think I'm going to start applying this rule to a lot of different things in my life... what about you? Do you believe the 80/20 rule is real? What part of your life does this apply too at the moment?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'm Young... So What?!!!

So, if you've been following my blog since it started you know that I am relatively young to be pursuing a graduate degree. My age has been a constant source of insecurity for me over the last few years, and even moreso now that I'm in the PhD program. It also doesn't help that I'm Black and a woman... yea that's a doozy lol.

My family and my mentors reassure me regularly that my age has nothing to do w/ my intellectual ability... a lot of them wish they had went straight through and were doing this in their 20's. Yet no matter how many times they have reassured me that "I'm the F***ing Queen" (yes someone actually bought me a mug for my birthday that says this lol) I find myself constantly second guessing myself and my abilities.

But yesterday I had a breakthrough... and it came at one of the oddest times and from a totally random situation... don't most of my breakthroughs happen this way? Anyway, I've had a few discussions w/ my "intellectual" friends lately about the plight of the Black women in America... particularly how we are rarely protected and supported when it comes to abusive situations. It amazes me more that Black women tend to be the first to blame the woman when she is abused, raped, molested, etc... and will continue to support the offenders. Someone mentioned that "women hate other women" period... and they would rather support a man than a woman any day. Most of these conversations were sparked by the women who still defend abusers like R. Kelly and Chris Brown, but berate Alicia Keys for being a "home-wrecker."

Anyway, I posted a random vent on twitter which included the following tweets:

Rant deleted because it is clear that people are missing the actual point of this blog due to their feelings about my rant... I am not trying to turn my blog into commentary on anyone or anything but me and my academic experiences.

Well apparently my rant hit a few nerves and caused someone that I have e-known for at least 6 years to call my rationale for not supporting/listening to R.Kelly's music retarded and blamed my decision on my age. I won't even go into detail on why the word choice or the fact that using my age to judge my intellectual ability are wrong, but I will admit that mentioning my age struck a nerve. Why? Because as a young, Black woman navigating my way through a White, male dominated space by another Black woman hurt. It also furthers my thoughts on Black women fighting one another over a Black man that could care less about either of them, but that's not the topic at hand. Plus, if she wanted to take things personal than she really needed to look in the mirror at her actions and consider her own maturity level.

Ironically, after I got over the initial sting of the statement and became angry I realized that I've been putting myself in this "I'm young, so people won't respect my intellectual abilities..." box... so why get hurt when someone actually says it? Because she's wrong and so am I lol... because I am in a place that people who are older would love to be and because I'm here way before a lot of my peers... because I can state confidently that I am a scholar and well on my way to being an intellectual. If anything my youth should make me more confident in my abilities, because I had the good sense to do this now... because I was able to choose a career path for my life without having to bump my head repeatedly. I was SMART enough to listen to those around me when they told me to do it now when I'm young. I was SMART enough to learn from the "mistakes" and experiences of my elders. I AM SMART enough to know that age is not indicative of maturity or intelligence. I AM SMART enough to know that just because someone is young it does not mean that they have not had just as many if not more life experiences than someone older. I AM SMART enough to realize that not everyone has to bump their head to learn... some people learn from those around them.

So, to the person that challenged my ability to make logical arguments based on my age I say THANK YOU! You just helped me more than you can ever know. I spent the rest of yesterday with my head held high knowing that I DESERVE to be in this space. I gave a presentation later that day on my current research completely confident that my ideas are original scholarship and will be well received... and they were by the way.

Oh and the next time you try to judge me based on my age take the time to reflect on where you were at 26.... where you are at 30+ and where I'll be at 30+... I can confidently say that by the time I'm 30+ I might not have the same "life experiences" but I will have an enriching career that fulfills me... I will be mentoring other young Black women who are aspiring to follow in my footsteps... and I will NEVER use someone's age to discount their ideas and opinions... hell you're an R. Kelly fan didn't he write "Age Ain't Nothin but a Number?"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Breakthrough...

I think I've had a breakthrough...

On Monday i attended my group therapy session on campus... yes I'm in group therapy... if you're a graduate student I highly recommend finding a group if you want to make it out remotely sane. Anyway... I decided to share the details of my previous blog and it lead to a breakthrough.

For as long as I can remember school has been my safe haven. I ALWAYS wanted to go to school... rain, shine, snow, sleet, mother in labor, sickness... I was going to school. My parents often gauged my level of illness by asking me if I still wanted to go to school... on the rare occasions when I said no off to the emergency room we went. School was my escape into another world... an escape from my reality at home. School was my first love and best friend... I was a shy kid w/ a lot of problems at home... I had a lot on my mind and pressure... but school never asked much of me. Sure I had to read books and write papers, and study for icky math exams; but it was totally worth it.

When I started my initial graduate studies in the Fall of 2006 I was running away from a lot of issues... I wanted to start over where no one knew me and I had no responsibilities to anyone or anything. Since then I have grown so much, and in growing I've learned to love other things. School is no longer the only place that I feel 100% safe... I now have a community of scholars that have become like family to me... I've fallen in love and am in a serious relationship...I'm no longer a hermit that sits at home w/ my books and laptop.

This growth has changed my relationship w/ school. Now that school is no longer my primary safe haven the love I felt for it in the past has started to dim. Don't get me wrong... I still love the smell of new books... and I still randomly blurt out some new research idea... but it's no longer the end all be all to my happiness...

As I worked out my thought process with the group members, I came to realize that because I have all these other wonderful things that I love in my life now I want to delve into them and I see school as a hindrance. While I'm "only" 26 I'm ready to get married and have a family... something that I NEVER considered for myself in the past. I want to travel and see the world. I want to be able to see my younger siblings more often and not have to rush them off the phone because I'm writing a paper. Sometimes I feel like school is cheating me out of a "life"... it's like school is this selfish lover that wants me all to himself and makes me feel horribly when I spend time with anyone else.

I'm sure this sounds crazy, but talking through that actually made me feel a lot better... it gave me a reason for why the emotional disconnect from my first love at this time.

My goal for the coming weeks is to figure out a balance... why can't a girl have it all?

(Please ignore any grammatical issues... I wrote this while flying in the air... yay for wifi)

Friday, October 30, 2009

If I Was A Bird...

You got me caught in a stormy eye world of dreams
and I beg to see truth and promises you made to me
now we’ve come so far but my visions of happiness
with you in my life I’m afraid and confused
If I was a bird I’d fly

If I was a bird I’d fly away
spread my wings so I’d escape
If I was the sky
I’d let it rain to wash away the pain

If I was a bird I’d fly away
spread my wings so I’d escape
If I was the sky
I’d let it rain to wash away the pain

Floetry "If I was a Bird"

Last night while grading papers the above song came on my iTunes playlist, and instead of thinking about a stormy love relationship like the song implies it made me think about my tumultuous relationship w/ academia. For as long as I can remember I have been known as the "smart" girl. I'm that girl that almost always has a book stashed in her purse just in case there's time to read a chapter. My love of books soon led to me falling in love with school. School has always been my first love and anything else was merely a mistress... a fling... that is until recently.

Lately, I have found myself wanting to burn all my books and drop out of my PhD program. Some days I wake up excited for the day of research and writing ahead. Other days I wake up and the mere thought of reading one more scholarly article makes me want to vomit. Like the song says "if I were a bird I'd fly away..."

My relationship with my first love has reached the stormy point that many long term romantic relationships experience. When it's time to make a choice between weathering the storm and going our separate ways. And much like being at a crossroads in a romantic relationship my head and heart are not agreeing. My head says take the M.A. and run on May 15th. My heart says noooo you can't give up... we've been in this since you were 3 and your mom enrolled you in pre-k... think about all the good times we've shared... all the A's you've received... all the C's that you knew did not mean you were average... don't you remember the thrill of your college acceptance letters... and what about finding out you got into graduate school... you can't let a few bad times ruin a good thing. This is usually when my head chimes in and reminds me that dating someone for 23 years does not mean they're you're only option... don't forget about all the sleep lost... all the fun missed out on will studying... and aren't you tired of being broke.

So, I dedicate the following songs to my first love as I try to decide whether it's time to walk away or take a break.

Letoya Luckett "Torn"

A part of me wants to leave.
But a part of me wants to be here with you.
And every time I think we're over and done you do something to get me back loving you.
And you got me just torn.

Torn in between the two. (Oh yeah)
Cuz I really wanna be with you.
But something's telling me I should leave you alone. (I really want to be with you)
Leave you alone.
Leave you alone.

Heather Headley "I Wish I Wasn't"

When you touch me my heart melts
And everything you did wrong I forgive
So you play me and take advantage
Of the love
that I feel for you
Why you wanna hurt me so bad
I believed in you that's why I'm so mad
Now I'm drowning in

I wish I wasn't in love with you
So you couldn't hurt me
it just ain't fair the way you treat me
No you don't
deserve me
Wasting my time thinking bout you when you ain't never gon change
I wish I wasn't in love with you so I
wouldn't feel this way

Vivian Green "Emotional Rollercoaster"

Yesterday I told myself I was gonna be okay.
Gonna start a new day be truly happy.
I was gonna take control of me.
But eventually reality hit me.
Mentally, physically, emotionally.
And I opened my eyes and realized
that I was still being taken for a constant ride oh no

I'm on a emotional rollercoaster.

Loving you aint nothing healthy.
Loving you was never good for me.
But I can't get off.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting Emotional in the Classroom

So, I know I haven't blogged on here in FOREVER, but I'm really going to try to do better. Anyway, I chose to start blogging today after getting emotional while teaching. Today is 9/11 and the 8 year anniversary of the "terrorist attacks." It was my first time teaching on 9/11 and I wanted to do something significant.

So, I had everyone free write for 15 minutes on the following topic: Where were you on 9/11? What does this day mean to you? After we (yes I participated) finished free-writing I shared my piece and a few people shared theirs. We watched the youtube video of Suheir Hammad's "First Writing Since." Class is only 50 minutes, so we didn't have as much time to discuss as I would have liked, but I think it was a good class. I did this same thing in both classes I'm teaching this semester.

I'm going to include my free-write below... it's pretty long since I had time to add more while my second class was writing. Remember this is a free-write, so it hasn't been edited at all.

September 11, 2001

I can still remember the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 as if it happened yesterday, and not 8 years ago. It was my second week of college and 8 days before my 18th birthday. I had just started adjusting to my college schedule and the impossible workload. That morning started like any other I waited for my roommate to come back from the shower... my cue that it was time to stop hitting snooze. I went to shower and when I came back my roommate, Stephanie, was standing in front of the TV frozen. It had to be around 7:40 am, because she had an 8 am class. As she prepared to leave she told me that a plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers...still groggy despite my shower I just muttered okay. Stephanie asked me to watch the news while she went to class, and update her on what happened. I started getting dressed and watched the screen. Imagine my disbelief as I saw the second plane crash while the news was broadcasting live. It was this moment when I realized something bad was happening. I grabbed my phone and called home. "Mom, what's happening... planes are crashing... I'm scared... what do I do?" My mom who usually relies on me to be rational was panicked. She told me she would call me back, but first she had to pick up my younger siblings from schoool.

So, what did I do in the meantime? I went to my 9 am class. Crazy huh? After class we all learned that the university was closed for the rest of the day, and they were calling the plane crashes intentional--terrorist attacks. Once again I called home. My mom wanted to come get me from school, but the news advised everyone to stay off the roads. They weren't sure if more than NY was targeted. So, I just stayed inside. I was confused, scared, and for the first time away from my family when disaster struck.I spent the rest of my morning on AIM w/ a friend in NY who had no cell phone reception, but a very worried Michigan family. She gave me numbers to call, and I reassured her family that she was safe.

I'm not sure when it hit me, but at some point I remembered that today was my baby brother's birthday. He was turning 4. It was the first time I was away on one of their special days. I remember calling to tell him happy birthday and him sounding sad. He said "No one's acting like it's my birthday. Mommy didn't take me to breakfast and she picked everyone up from school early." I felt bad... how do you explain to a 4 yr old that his birthday will forever be remembered as the day the towers fell and thousands of lives were lost.

For me 9/11 is about more than the loss of life. It's the celebration of my baby brother's life. The child plagued w/ asthma attacks that kept him hospitalized and all of us fearful. The child w/ the bright smile and wonderful spirit. The little boy who rarely asks for much, but is grateful for everything. When he was 3 and had to have surgery my mom told him he could have whatever he wanted. His request--for me not to go to school and come with them. This year when I asked what he wanted for his birthday his first response was "Can you come home?" How many 12 yr old boys still want to hang out w/ their big sister? I know you aren't supposed to have favorites, but out of my 8 younger siblings, Robert is by far my favorite. Maybe because we share a zodiac sign or a birthday month. Or maybe it's because no matter how horrible I feel he can always make me feel better.

So, while I understand how terrible 9/11 is for most people it will always be my baby brother's birthday first, and the day the towers fell second.


I began to shed tears when I got to the part of being away from my family for the first time...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wow... you look really young?!!

The above is what one of my students said when they walked into my class on the first day of school. I just laughed... I was already prepared for that comment. I'll be 25 in 19 days and I'm teaching an introductory composition course at the university where I'm finishing my master's degree. Even though I'm almost 25 I'm still mistaken for a college freshman or high school student on a regular basis. At first I thought my age and look was going to be a major hindrance but I've decided to use it to my advantage. On the first day of school when I introduced myself I said the following: "My name is Ms. _______, and I will be 25 next month. That's both good and bad for you. It's good because unlike a lot of your teachers I still remember being a freshman in college and all the fear and anxiety that comes with it; not to mention we will watch movies and listen to music that is relevant to you all. It's bad because I know every single excuse or game you will try to run on me... so don't even bother."

After getting through the very scary first day of class I've realized that this is really what I want to do. It's only been 2 weeks but I love planning what I'm going to discuss in class the next day. I love the fact that as a young Black woman in the classroom I'm showing my young Black female students that the goal is achievable and so real. I love the fact that I have the ability to shape the first year experience for so many of them. For most of my students I was the very first teacher they interacted with on a collegiate level... I teach Mon, Wed, and Fri from 9:00 to 9:50 am.

The first 2 weeks have been really great so far but this coming week is crucial... so far we've been doing a lot of introductory stuff but this week I'll introduce the art of "personal narrative." We'll also start the first of many grammar presentations... I'm going first so they know what to expect and what I'm looking for...

Alright I need to go grade the practice Regent's exams they took this past Friday... keep your eyes open for more frequent updates.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Anybody still reading this???? I know that I was ghost for quite some time but I'M BACK!!! I took a break from academia this summer which means I also took a break from this blog... my bad to those who do read and were waiting for updates.

School starts this Monday (the 18th) and I'm teaching my first college-level course. How do I feel about it? Excited, nervous, geeked, anxious.... you get the point. I finally finished my course syllabus and I even know what we're going to do the first day of class...What I'm not ready for is how to address the why do you look so young question? Or the chance that one of my students will hit on me... my boyfriend and every guy/girl friend that I have has told me that it's going to happen. My boyfriend thinks it's cute to torture me about it but I'm super worried about being taken seriously.

How's everyone out there in academia doing?

Expect lots of blogs/updates as the semester progresses...