21 March 2012


Philosophically, melancholy sometimes refers to suffering a loss with an inability or unwillingness to let go of that loss and the sadness that accompanies not letting go.

I feel that I have somehow messed up on an important relationship. When I entered my PhD, I looked forward to working on a dissertation. I imagined finding a mentor like the professors I had during my master's: friendly and professional; somebody interested in or invested in me as a scholar; somebody who would be honest with me; somebody who believes in my abilities; somebody who has my back and is a teammate; somebody I would talk to and rely on in the future during the rest of my career. I have a hard time articulating this relationship--I'm not sure what I've said so far captures it. At any rate, I messed up this time. I keep hoping that somehow things will click and I will be able to fix it and it will happen. I've even seen glimpses of it, I think. But it hasn't happened. I'm not sure what did wrong--maybe I'm not cool enough. Maybe I'm not proactive enough. Certainly I have not been the most impressive. I didn't speak up in class as much as I sometimes do.

Now, honestly, I have a great mentor. I know that he will be honest with me. I know that he will do right by my dissertation. He is truly brilliant, yet unassuming. He's funny, and a great teacher. But the relationship has never really come, and I can't seem to let go of wanting it. I can't seem to stop being sad and disappointed and confused about why I didn't make this happen. I should let it go--he is great professor and I'm lucky to be working with him and this dissertation will all work out and he will be there for me as I do it (if I go to him). Maybe it is all in my head (but it's not!). Maybe I have unrealistic expectations (maybe I do). I watch this relationship click between this prof and others and it hurts. Why couldn't I do it? Why didn't that work for me?

I can't seem to let it go.


Alexis Poelman said...

So sorry to hear! But I bet you're not the only one who experiences this. In fact, I'm surprised that people DO find that mentor-mentee relationship that just clicks. I'm sure it's just a personality thing, you guys not meshing. But I can definitely understand why you feel disappointed. Oh well, his loss man!

editorgirl said...

I was always jealous of your relationships with different mentors during the MA--especially as I watched mine turn into a passive-aggressive battle. I hope you know that you have an entire battalion at your back. We all love and support you and your fantastic mind. And someday you will be prepared to be that mentor, and that's the most awesome-est part of all of this.

Tammy said...

Just thinking of you. All I can add is that I am sure that so many of these painful aches will only add more depth and understanding to an already incredible person. I can see you in the future looking back on these feelings, and sharing them with someone who needs to know you understand. I sort of felt like this a bit on my mission at times--like I just couldn't get things to work like I had always thought they would be. Like I thought I was not showing my best self--not in my element--thought I so desperately wanted to be and thought I should be. I don't know how to explain it. But anyway--keep your chin up. This is just a phase of your life and you will get what you need to get out of it through Grace. Love you.