Get your naval-gazing b.s. right here

One thing that sucks about being me, or perhaps about being most humans, is “situational shyness.” Now, having an anxiety disorder, if I am awake, I am anxious, but certain situations paralyze me, while in other contexts I can be truly fearless…. right now I am sitting at one of my field sites, and I wrote and printed out a survey that I’d love people to answer, but I am terrified to hand it out. And I’m not sure why. I’m afraid of bothering people, afraid nobody will answer it, blah blah. I mean, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, as my mom would say… or as my friend Kats would say “you need to GLOAF” (give less of a fuck).

I need to correct one thing I wrote, two entries ago. J and I had a misunderstanding about support, the house, and all of that. So I know he’s trying to do as right by me as possible, but I still go into a stress spiral every time i read an email from him. The last was about whether the dogs would be okay in Tokyo. They eat high-quality dog food that might not be available here, he argued, and Mei has prescription eye medication. Plus, they’re quite anxious and he doesn’t know how they’ll do on the plane ride. Maybe they’ll die.

My parents also really don’t want to take them in. In the whole world, I feel like the only person with any love for these neurotic beasts, and I actively want them with me. J’s really skeptical of that, and won’t let go of the idea of my parents taking them. All of this led to me torturing poor T on his day off with “Everything is going to be okay, right? We won’t go broke, right?” Etc. I made him reassure me about 10,000 times. He said “we have friends who love us and will help us.” But who’s going to help us with money if we need it? Seriously… “Hi, my dogs need a haircut. Can you spare 8,000 yen?”

I am terrified that by meeting T I am giving up my dreams of being a professor…. I have no evidence that he wouldn’t support me/us moving outside of Japan, but I’m just afraid. It’s weird how attached I am to academia considering how miserable it makes me 50% 80% of the time. I guess I figure it to be the only way to get to do the research I want to do, and publish as I want to… although getting paid well for my expertise would be nice. And I’m a recovering academic snob, always skeptical of people who didn’t choose to remain in academia, while jealous of those who have already succeeded in it.

Most of these people haven’t met a wonderful man who doesn’t speak English and is thus terrified of the U.S.

And T really is awesome. I am more impressed with him every day. When I go into a freakout, his face is amazing. It is so kind, and so loving, and so patient. His eyes crinkle at the corners as he looks at me, and reassures me that if we work together everything will be okay. It’s very odd to be simultaneously actively mourning the loss of one relationship while celebrating a new one.

But to get off my tangent, I’d probably be much happier being a freelance writer~ contemporary academia really sucks. Or maybe I wouldn’t. I should really cross that bridge when I come to it, eh? Maybe finish the ol’ dissertation first and then see how I feel? In the meantime, I also should gain more competence in Japanese. I can’t tell you how much rapport building and conversational contents I’ve missed out on by being stuck in this intermediate rut. Last night over cheese-fries and non-alcoholic beer (tastes like… shitty beer) with friends, I found myself thinking “I am THE MAN at Japanese.” Indeed, a friend’s wife started berating him because he’s lived in Japan for 6 years, and I less than 1, and he speaks almost no Japanese.

“See, Liz can do it! If you were less lazy…” she started in. “Why haven’t you learned Japanese yet?”

I mean, I think T and J are both incredibly lazy at times, but I never say so…. especially not in front of other people.

I was just thinking more about academia- I mean, most of the time I space out during classes and conferences, as I find listening to people read papers mind-numbing. And I think most of the hot button issues in academia are tedious and irrelevant as fuck, merely intellectual games played in a closed circle. We do a lot of good too, and the world genuinely needs anthropology and anthropological knowledge. But we can be such eggheaded douchebags too…. the competition makes me miserable, the ladder climbing and endless obstacle course etc. I hate it all… but I love it too. At its best it’s creative work that allows me a tremendous amount of freedom, and I get to read, talk about what I read, and produce original knowledge…. but I often feel much less engaged with the daily bullshit than most people.

Plus, most of the worst people I have met in the world are academics. Miserable, egotistical/insecure, cruel, elitist, asshats. And some of the best suffer from all sorts of mental health problems as a result of(?)the hideousness of contemporary academia.

I feel as though I should let fate deal my hand here.. I’ll work my hardest as always, but this year has proven that even when I think I have everything tightly under control, I don’t.

As a doctor said to me the other day, after hearing about the last year “Wow. You are amazingly strong to be this functional. And with an anxiety disorder? I’m in shock.”

You know, I’m kind of amazed too. I feel as thought I’m much more okay than I have any right to be.

And I swear, I’ll go back to chronicling my daily exploits, narrative style soon and stop with all the introspection.


1 thought on “Get your naval-gazing b.s. right here

  1. kim

    I often give myself high-fives for functioning through stressful situations. I remember when my anxiety was much less managed and I would have been paralyzed by dealing with 1/100th of what I deal with on a daily basis now.


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