Sitting at the big kids table
I think it's interesting to be in such a transitory period of my academic and professional development. I can't help but feel so small and insignificant at times. While I can chalk it all up to a lack of confidence--I don't think that captures the entirety of what makes me feel inadequate at times. I was talking to my friend recently about all the different educational paths we would have gone into and the fields we would have been successful in. I caught myself saying that at a young age my passion was neuroscience but early on I told myself that I wasn't 'smart' enough for it and that it was too big of a risk because I'm a second generation American and I don't have the social resources to navigate an educational system foreign to my family or a career outside the socially prescribed destinations that are applied to people with my ethnic background. So I played it safe. That's not to say I'm not passionate about what I'm doing now--I most certainly am or I wouldn't be getting my Ph.D. However, I'm more aware now that at a young age how systematically ideas of race and class impacted what I felt I could do and deserved in life. So now I'm sitting at the big kids' table where I'm not only a student but a 'highly educated' one that is also embarking on an academic career path and teaching at an educational level that approximately 8% of the U.S. population will attain. That's an insane thing for me to grasp especially since I haven't even hit 30 yet. I will say that it has been extremely crucial for me to have advisors that are transparent with me. To be able to sit and listen to their perspective in a colloquial manner about their experiences with teaching to help me realize that the dynamics I see in my classroom are in other classrooms and sometimes they're worse. To know that my concerns are validated and are things that even the most experienced professors face. I wonder though--will the feeling of inadequacy ever fade? Probably not some circumstances and yes in others. Is this my experience of ongoing systematic oppression as a woman of color?