Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep. Nothing new. It takes a while for my brain to calm down enough to realize, ‘hey, it’s sleepy time now’. I was laying there trying to figure out why I keep clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. Yes, I’m under stress right now, but I’ve been under more stress in the past, and I never clenched my jaw to the point my molars are begging me to stop! I love my classes I’m taking; I love the class I’m teaching. Why do I have I had this perpetual tense feeling?
So, I did a bit self-reflection because 1:00 am is the perfect time for it; and I kind of had an epiphany.
I spent more than a decade in a highly adversarial environment. Being a bankruptcy attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan is no walk in the park. It’s an immeasurable amount of stress on a daily basis.
From there, I became a college instructor. So much less stress every day, but where I was teaching had an adversarial vibe. There was not much in the way of collaboration (it was virtually non-existent), and there was a divide between full-timers and adjuncts. I think a lot of people liked to pretend it wasn’t there, but it was. So, even though there was less stress, there was still a fair amount of tension.
Then, I started this PhD program, and it’s all about collaboration, and let’s help each other through this, and professors who say they see me as a colleague. And this is so amazing! So again, why am I so bloody tense all the time?!?!
What I figured out is that I’ve put up a deflector shield. And this deflector shield is trying to protect me from potential adversary. I know people aren’t trying to trick me into believing they’ll help only to have them say “Sike! Fooled you!” but, I still feel this need to be on guard.
Now that I know this is an issue, the goal will be to try to lower that shield and no longer be on Red Alert.