boast post · good attitudes about crappy possibilities · good things · saving my sanity

What’s your passion? And what are you good at?

I think we need a boast post–well, I think I might need one, because this week, it feels like the voices in my head are doing nothing but complaining and pointing out my flaws (“I hate grading! I’m an idiot for assigning all this writing! I’m actively getting stupid because I never get to read anything! I’m a terrible researcher! I’m inherently unserious and immature! Why is the office 18 degrees? Where’s my scarf and fingerless gloves? Wah!”).

Instead of getting lost in awful minutiae of the end of term, I thought I’d come back to first principles. I’m thinking about the passion that brought me here, and the skills that allow me to shine, in my own way at least. Because that’s what keeps me going.

I’m passionate about reading. All the time. I think, at this point, I’ve got all the ads on the bus memorized, for example. This morning, I read all the text on the box from which I removed a new bar of soap. So I should be happy, and I guess I am, that I have so much in front of me to read. I really am excited to read my students’ papers (but not to grade them). I’m excited to read the textbook (but not to prep my class). I am always excited to read material in my field in a new book, or an article. My biggest passion, beyond just simply reading all the time, is for my field: honestly, I just keep finding more and more to be fascinated with in computing culture. When I started, the world wide web had just been invented, and I wanted to understand how people came to understand computers as personal machines. Ha! And now there’s so, so very much more to think about and I get so excited I start to talk really fast when I even consider it.

So my passions still drive me as much as they ever did.

And what am I good at? It’s hard to remember now when I feel so beaten down by meetings I don’t feel well-enough prepared for, by grading piles that don’t ever get any smaller, by research that is so completely not writing itself now. Hm. Well, I’m funny. My students in their evaluation always seem to remark on how I can make even boring stuff kind of fun and I think that should count for something, shouldn’t it? A spoonful of sugar, and all that? Man, my prep might not be as thorough in late November as it was in September, but, dammit, at least I’ve got the personality and the wit to really sell it. So. I’m good at being funny.

Here’s something funny, a little gift from me to you: my husband and I were walking in from Amazingly Distant Parking Lot when we came upon this. There’s something very late-November-y about it, which might resonate with many of you. Enjoy:

Huh. Okay. Now I’m feeling a little better about life. I’m chuckling out loud right now, just like in the video, at that poor stuck squirrel.


Maybe a little pause to consider what you’re passionate about, and what you’re really good at can help you get through term, too: maybe slam poetry rocks your universe; maybe your skill is giving compassionate extensions to stressed out students; maybe you can’t get enough of literature in translation and have an uncanny ability to plan meetings that have solid agendas and always end early. I’d LOVE to hear about it.

Please! Tell me the passion that keeps you going through this November slog, and one thing you’re good at that makes it all a little easier. Let’s all cheer each other, and cheer each other up.

6 thoughts on “What’s your passion? And what are you good at?

  1. My peer-driven learning course has been such an important motivator for me this semester. Watching my students rise to the occasion has been a great pleasure for me. Has it been perfect? No (I wish they'd write more) but over-all, they've been thoughtful and done more “critical thinking” in their groups than I could ever had asked/assigned/require they do on their own.

    Also, there's another new Dany Laferrière book that has just come up, which means I have that to read over Christmas! More texts for my corpus! Yippy! It's never-ending!


  2. From Lourdes Arciniega, whose Blogger is giving her some static today:

    A funny professor is a Godsend, as is a funny post on a cold and dreary Friday morning! When I need a break from reading, I “read” a decorating magazine – the picture book for adults. All the holiday issues come out this time of the year, and they are glorious. I don't have a creative bone in my body, but love to see how other people effortlessly pick out color schemes and choreograph all the little details. The vibrant colors are great mental break from all those deadlines, research, and grading which come in an endless, foreboding procession of black and white lettering. I also reward myself at the end of the day – no matter what kind of day it's been – with fun reading. Just discovered Laura King's Mary Russell series, and feel like I am set for a winter's worth of happy reading.
    Lourdes Arciniega


  3. I think I am good at reminding people of what they are good at.

    As you know I spend a lot of time at yoga which certainly gets me through dismal spells as well as the wonderful ones and the quotidian ones. I also love looking at the Fluevog website. Seriously, I recognize how wildly indulgent it is, but I will admit that looking at those cheering shoes makes me *so* happy.


  4. Passionate about making that 'lightbulb moment' happen with students. It happened again in a tutorial yesterday (a student suddenly applying theories about language and nationalism to contextualise her family memories of education in the USSR) and there is nothing like it…


  5. Well, if bragging is okay, I get a real charge out of getting people to agree to something that's in their interests, but they wouldn't have known it without a push.

    And I did think it was sorta fun that three different people referred to me as “scary” this week. (Okay, one was a grad student who said “I don't see why people are scared of you …”, but I'm counting it.) That seems to me kinda like being afraid of Winnie the Pooh or Polkaroo.


  6. I am passionate about research, and about writing. Despite the isolation of being an Independent Researcher (currently in the process of applying to Doctoral Programs), I have managed to push through and submit 6 papers since late July/early August. I am writing my 7th article right now (3rd co-authored). I also have at least two Conferences secured for next year. It certainly can't hurt my standing for PhD apps.

    Downside: feeling like I need a real vacation soon!


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