I knew I was nervous when my fingers started tingling while I scanned the audience from the front of the room. That’s the problem with using deep cleansing breaths to control a racing heart… hyperventilation. You will not pass out in front of these people, I told myself.
My presentation was fourth in the lineup of “top papers,” and only I half-listened to my co-panelists–partly because of my nerves, and partly because I understood nothing of their agent-based modeling and complex statistical analyses. Luckily, when I got to the podium, the jitters melted away and I delivered my best, most engaging (based upon the head nods and laughter, anyway) speech to date. And all in front of nearly 100 scholars in my field, many of which are the who’s who of organizational communication studies no less. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!
|The ICA Org Comm Division’s New Members Breakfast, coordinated by
yours truly, and held at ASU’s Mercado downtown. Thanks to a
a miraculously beautiful day in Phoenix, we moved the meal outdoors.
It’s a heady thing to be a young, pre-Ph.D scholar and have my work recognized as some of the best of the year. To have people know my name, learn about my research on emotional interaction in the airport, and to somewhat care about it… super freaking cool, especially heading into my “on the market” job hunting year.
But it’s just a bit terrifying. As with getting my first academic journal article accepted for publication earlier this year, I feel pressure to achieve this top paper thing again. And again. And again.
And I wonder, what happens if I don’t? What happens if I’m a one-shot wonder? What if my future work stops resonating with reviewers? Or worse, what if I stop creating new work altogether? Well, no one’s going to die, that’s for sure. The world will keep right on turning. (Sad, but true.)
So where is this pressure coming from? From me apparently. This type of award at my student stage in academia is celebrated, but not required. As it turns out though, I really like that people care about my work. I enjoy having more than five people in the audience as I speak. I appreciate the attention. But I also know I really like to procrastinate and that imagining all these what-ifs is just a means to put off thinking about my dissertation which will likely be the gateway to more academic attention. (Especially considering the paper that won the awards is the “pilot” for my culminating project.)
So, now that this 15 minutes of academic fame has passed, I must get my nose back to the grindstone. To that end, I’ve been taking research trips over the last couple weeks, flying* around and doing participant observations in airports. It’s strange and exhausting to “fly to nowhere” as Mr. T says, but hopefully some good will come of it! Stay tuned for more on that.
*Flown recently? Want to chat? Email bluestmuse(at)gmail(dot)com.