A physician-scientist, mother, and friend who I respect greatly is one of the people reading my K grant, and we went through her edits yesterday. Everything started off well enough: the first half of the grant had only minor comments. As we got into the meat of the proposal, however, it got a little rough. This normally would have been fine, but I suddenly found myself so scatterbrained that I couldn’t even answer simple questions about the proposed studies. I knew the answers, but couldn’t formulate them. I actually had to read through my own grant at times to remember what I was proposing. I remember trying very hard to not get frustrated, as I knew that would just make the situation worse, for her and for me. When we finished going through the edits, however, I felt worn-out and completely incompetent.
Last night I had a series of dreams that left me feeling even worse. Each one of them centered around work, and the point of each was that I was a disappointment at my job. It felt like a sort of “get off your high horse” series of beatings – like I even knew where my high horse was. I woke up this morning with my confidence completely swept away.
This isn’t me. I generally have plenty confidence in my abilities…healthy confidence, with the normal strikes of arrogance and humility mixed in from time to time. I’m also very organized, with my science brain fairly well put together. But lately I haven’t felt like myself at all, and the last 24 hours has been a sort of breaking point. I can deal with being a bit of a scatterbrain, but this whole lack of confidence thing is scaring the shit out of me.
Again, I’m trying to stay calm and remind myself that the sweet little parasite growing inside of me is stealing oxygen from my brain, causing some of my forgetfulness and disorganization. And dreams during pregnancy usually convey concerns about being pregnant, or (*gulp*) motherhood. So the nightmares were likely indicative of my fears about being a mommy. While I know these fears are normal, though, I don’t know how to handle them stealing confidence away from other aspects of my life. I guess it’s just a reminder that even strong, confident, do-it-all women can’t keep all the facets of our lives completely separate.
In the meantime, I’m trying to grow accustomed to this new person I see in the mirror. I don’t really recognize her – physically, mentally, or emotionally. And I haven’t really decided if I like her or not. She seems nice enough, but she also comes across as a bit weak. How will she deal with the invited talk she’s giving at next month’s conference? Or job interviews that will hopefully come up this coming year? For now I’m reserving judgment, and hoping she’ll adjust to her life over the next few months. Or maybe I’ll get the old girl back after the baby comes. I guess we’ll see…