I think I’m burnt out in a rather conventional way here. As I mentioned in the previous post, I noticed there was a lot of that going around the blogosphere, and pardon me for being too lazy to link properly to all the places.
I’m burnt out on the semester. And it’s pervading my life. I feel like doing nothing. Like nothing, totally. Like sort of not even watching tv, and I love the netflix and the movies and the nature shows, but nothing interests me. I’m even feeling apathetic about my cooking, and I love to cook. And when I do feel like cooking, I find that nothing appeals to me. Like I’m burnt out on even eating. I have an incredibly bad tension headache I’m rockin in the back of my head and my neck right now.
But maybe I’m just not burnt out. Maybe I’m just tired of the semester and the super long days because I think about what I get to teach next year, even next spring, and I’m super excited about that because it’s all new and it’s all stuff I want to do more with. And maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m worn out on the stuff I adore and love with a pureness that makes snow look tarnished. And I think part of my malaise and anxiety is that I’m anxious to work on the new things that I was supposed to be working on all semester. Ok, one of the things that I need to work on this summer fits squarely into my field, but it’s a novel I will have only taught for the first time this semester, an author on whom I wrote for my diss, but not this novel, and I get to revisit the theory that I love for looking at this novel–some really challenging stuff. And the other projects are things I have wanted to work on for a while as well. And I think the reason why next year seems so appealing is that I get to do some stuff that I don’t study or write on but that I think I might want to. I think I have just been so focused for so long on one time period, that now that I’ve gotten to write my diss on it, graduate, and immerse my self in teaching it for two years, I’m looking forward to the next thing. Of course, it’s not like I’ve published on any of this, but maybe it’s not really burn out at all but more of a rut because I haven’t challenged myself lately. I do new novels, but all stuff with which I’m most familiar.
I’ve been thinking a lot today of this in terms of my running. 2 marathons and a 1/2 marathon in six months is a lot, and like my scholarship goals (or lack thereof) I’ve usually got enough of a base to get through, but nothing that I’ve seriously committed to, except now I’ve got serious deadlines and serious commitments to follow through on if I don’t want to really fuck myself here. So right now, with my running, I’m focused on a shorter distances 10k and the half for the summer. They’re not sprints by any means, but given the base of the marathons, they seem like a pleasurable endeavor and more manageable right now. So I feel the same way with my research and what I need to get done this summer. Two shorts and a long, like the two 10ks I have planned and then the half marathon at the end of the summer–I have a conference paper, a shorter article, and a longer article due at the end of summer. I think one of the reasons why I want the semester done is so I can focus on the new. I’m interested in that. I feel like the semester at this point is standing in my way because the work I want to do is not related to the work I am teaching currently, and I’m anxious to get started on it, and I think that’s where the disconnect is for me right now.
This is also why I don’t think it’s the teaching that has me in a rut or burnt out because I was smarter this time around with the fall–I’m going to be teaching things that are in line with the stuff I want to do my scholarly stuff on, texts that move me in the direction of the things I want to be working on.
Perhaps that is why when finally I have something that I want to work on and a schedule that should seemingly allow me to work on my scholarship, why I’ve found it so difficult to do that this semester. There’s a disconnect between what I am teaching and what I want to be working on. I know it’s never perfect unless you’re at like a fancy pants uni teaching a grad class that is solely designed to be directly in line with your current research, but I’m not even in the same time period dealing with the same issues for my scholarly interests right now and what I’m teaching.And while this is the best semester I’ve had in Fancy Town as far as my teaching goes, I feel out of balance. And I think the best way for me to grow right now as a professor and as a scholar is to force myself out of that comfort zone and into my newer interests because I think that challenge to myself is going to help me challenge my students more, and that’s what I should be doing right?
It’s like the marathon–now that I’ve gone the distance, so to speak, I’ve got to find a way to challenge myself for the running. A mini ultra right now would not do because it’s more of the same in a way–long runs, endurance. I know I can run for five hours straight. I’m comfortable with the long slow run. I can do the distance. But can I challenge myself with something that I haven’t done in a long long time? Can I focus the intensity for a 10K and a 1/2 marathon that’s not a training run, nice and easy, but one that offers a challenge? And I need to have that same attitude for what I’m teaching. Will I be able to do something meaningful that I can then teach by shifting my focus to something new?