Fear and Flashbacks and Moving Forward

Eleanor Roosevelt says that you should

Do one thing every day that scares you.

I don’t know how I’m doing on the one-a-day count, but I know that in this past academic year, I’ve addressed a lot of things that have terrified me.

  • Going on the job market.
  • Deciding to go after tenure-track positions, which required me to write a research statement. I didn’t think I could. I was afraid to try. But I did it.
  • The interviews themselves have scared me on and off. Sometimes more confident, sometimes more shaky.
  • Dealing with my home department and its problems. There are people in that department whose lack of anger management and general fairness creates a hostile and intimidating environment.
  • Having to raise issues outside the department and within, to face these problems.
  • Dealing with people who are acting in an obstructionist manner.
  • Needing to go back to authorities within the university about even more blatant diversity and climate issues.

And I have gotten through most of that, though some is still pending. With a ton of discouragement, and not a lot of confidence. I have kept moving forward, nevertheless.

But tomorrow … tomorrow we open a job negotiation. I remind myself that we should be on the same side. But last spring’s fiasco has left me with anything but confidence on that point.

I am dealing with things that I am not sure are major enough to be called flashbacks, but they are like flashbacks. I am suddenly back in that emotional space where nothing I can do or say will change anything, I am not being supported by the person closest to me, and I am scared and paralyzed. I feel the obligation to say the right thing to make things go right, but I know that you cannot make unreasonable people reasonable. That is beyond my super-powers.

What if this happens again? I don’t want to stay where I am. I will not go somewhere that isn’t treating me right. What if we end up in the grey zone of uncertainty? Then how do I deal? What if I say the wrong thing or don’t deal with things perfectly?

And that’s ridiculous. I don’t have to be perfect. Neither does that dean have to be perfect. We both just have to be good enough. We both just have to want to make a deal that is good for the school and good for me, then work on what exactly that is.

Well, at least this time, I cannot lose a significant other over what happens. Right?

A principles/ideas of the negotiation:

We all want me to accept this job offer, and bring what I have to the school. This negotiation is about making that happen.

Tools that can be used:

  1. Figure out our common goals and priorities.
  2. Ask why the other person has whatever stance they have.
  3. Generate alternative ideas that might help with the problem. This can involve hiring me with a different title, for example.
  4. How can funds get best used to further everyone’s goals?
  5. Find out from others some details on start-up packages.
  6. I don’t have to respond to anything immediately. “I need some time to think about that.”
  7. If offered a salary that is obviously too low, the pregnant pause and, “That was lower than I was expecting/Is less than I am making now.”
  8. Find somewhere that we can have success together.

That’s the basics of what I can do. On the rest I have to trust.

A friend reminded,

Fear is a sign of profound opportunity.

And that goes along with a corollary,

Make the most of the opportunity in front of you.

One thought on “Fear and Flashbacks and Moving Forward

  1. I know it is hard and scary, but I have every confidence that you will do well. None of us have control over the dean doing well, but we will hope, and if it is our custom, pray that he is a dean worth working for. Since the math department there likes their dean and you like them, this is not a vain hope.

    Go for it. You are worth it!

Comments are closed.