I'm still processing what it truly means to be at the level of position that I seem to find myself in. I recently had a conversation with my friend, one I had already engaged myself in within my own head on the subway, of what the high school version of us would think about who we were today. There were several conclusions that I had but ultimately there was one that stood out. High school me had no idea I would be the woman I am today. I can confidently say that I had exceeded any expectation I had set for myself at that point in time. High school me had no idea what graduate school really meant and only that she one day wanted to be a doctor and severely doubted her ability to get there. High school me didn't have the social resources or mentors to carve a pathway to her ultimate dream. High school me didn't even consider the fact that I would be teaching graduate school courses, a level of education I didn't really think I could achieve. High school me, would be damn proud. I tried to remind myself of that as I walked to campus preparing to stand in front of MY class for the first time. (I know, classes are actually for the students but I'll let myself have that sentence.) I smirked a bit as I realized I was about to embark on one of the most amazing and defining firsts of my life. Sure, the first time we kiss someone or have sex are pretty noteworthy...but we all have those stories. I was about to engage in a first that most people will never experience. I try to remind myself of the intense commitment I have to my field and other humans as I try to better my profession, myself, and others. But it can be daunting when you have an intense sense of inadequacy and imposter syndrome.
My advisor can tell me over and over how smart and how little hand-holding I need. It never really calms the imposter syndrome I feel. My Fitbit will tell you that I was having some serious heart palpitations and anxiety as my heart rate skyrocketed past the typical cardio level. The shaking of my hands as I took introductory notes of my students will also tell you the amount of discomfort I felt. My feet will tell you how badly they wanted to run. The clock will tell you how quickly it tried to turn for me as I begged it every once in a while to fast forward a few hours. My brain will tell you it was simply wracked to it's ends wit of its capabilities as it continued to try to control my composure and tell me that I needed to follow through.
Work needs to be done here. I don't think it's the actual physical and intellectual work of me preparing for my classes. I think there's a deeply personal level of teaching where I need to be able to work and reflect on my own capabilities and build confidence. I think this is a component sorely missed when they pull you aside in a doctoral program and begin to groom you to become a professor. I can't say that I'm surprised that this is the conclusion I'm coming to after my first day of teaching. I do wish I were better equipped to face these challenges but I suppose writing about it will help.
There are a few things I do know for sure: 1) I am deeply committed to my profession 2) I have a genuine care and concern about my students and their entitlement to pull something out of this class 3) I am stronger and more capable than I allow myself to feel