Monday, December 15, 2008

Second-Guessing

This blog is inspired by a phone interview I recently had with a university. It just ended and my fingers itch to pick up the cell and say, "You know, I said this, when I really should've said this."  That's right. I'm second-guessing myself. 

This is a particularly irksome thing to be doing for me because I do not second-guess myself. Most decisions I make undergo grave consideration before any action is taken. I rarely regret break-ups, or moves, or job changes for this reason.  I also believe that I am shaped by the mistakes I make. So while I don't think every decision I've made has been the right one, I still rarely second guess a decision since I know it probably happened for some unknown reason.  I'm not a Calvinist.  But you might think of me as someone who has walked by the pool of predestination and caught a bit of condensation on her cheek. I have been lightly sprinkled with its possibilities.

But these interviews do not fall in line with my faithful life pattern of little regret.  As soon as I shut off the phone, I think, of COURSE I can define transnationalism! It's the study of cross-border communities! It's the deconstruction of thinking us versus them and the recognition of the complex relationships involved between the colonizer and the colonized! It's not whatever garbage I just gave five minutes ago.  The answer I gave five minutes ago sounds now like "Words! Verbage! Transatlantic! Literature between colonies! Vomit!" Not only that but I begin to worry: can Julia Sterne be considered a theorist? Is Erving Goffman too archaic to bring up as an influence? Is Judith Butler overdone even if there is no better substitution? 

But I can take none of it back.  I've got a monkey on my back I can't shake, and I've got to learn to do that and much faster than I have because at MLA I only have 1 hour to recover from anything stupid I might have said. My momentary bouts of idiocy cannot affect each interview I undergo.  The only thing getting me through? I keep hearing over and over from gainfully employed academics that the interviews they thought were the worst resulted in the campus visits. Maybe that won't be true for me, but maybe it will help me temporarily pry this chimp from my shoulders. 

3 comments:

Andrew said...

Was this a veiled comment on me being "monkey-like"? Am I on your back because I beat you in Scrabble with words like 'Zig','Dinos','Habib', and 'Qat'.

Camille said...

I've sometimes felt the queen of second-guessing, but over the last four years of my life I've realized that it doesn't do any good. It only seems to distract me. Try to move past it (the hard part) and know that you've learned from this. You are amazing and the right university will recognize that. Love ya!

Lisa said...

On the bright side, since you've now rehearsed that answer that you want to call back about, you know what to say when you're asked the question in another interview. :)