Research update #30: Coping with inadequacy

The Pat Thomson topic of the week is: “What I do when I feel inadequate”

I suspect the intention is to share positive coping strategies but honestly I don’t know if I have any. Mostly I just try to distract myself, lying on the couch listening to music and reading twitter on my phone or playing video games on the Playstation are highly effective for this. Playing games – particularly repetitive mastery type games like TrackMania (car racing, mainly trying to set the fastest time on a series of crazy tracks with increasing difficulty) – can be a problem of it’s own though as this gives me time to think about the work that I should be doing. Sometimes I go a little sideways and consider that the mastery that I’m trying to achieve is like practicing piano, which is something else that I can then feel guilty about.

Looking at the posts in the Slack channel for my school (study school, not work school) certainly doesn’t help with these feelings. They are almost all related to areas of theory that don’t seem applicable to my work – epistemic fluency crops up pretty regularly, which I at least feel like I kind of get the gist of now but don’t see the relevance to my particular questions – and even the language that people are using to describe their research and their questions feels far more sophisticated than my somewhat pedestrian research questions.

Nonetheless, I’m trying to strengthen my focus on my questions so I’ve printed them up on A3 and am sticking them in prominent places – above my work desk and on the fridge at home. I may also make it my home PC desktop though that might be too depressing.

my desk and questions

Ultimately I guess doing something, anything is better than feeling bad about doing nothing, so perhaps that’s my way forward.