I had my annual Development Talk with my professor the other day. One of the things that surfaced there has been niggling at me for several days now, and it ties in with behaviors and thought patterns I am all too familiar with.
My boss asked me whether I was happy here. And I am.
She pointed out that making sure I am indeed happy working here is a priority.
Keeping me around is a priority.
And I realize I am surprised at this.
Mind you, many people have articulated appreciation with me, my presence, my work and my competence through the years. When I was about to start my PhD studies, my (private sector) employers went to some length to convince me to stay on at least half-time. My supervisors have invariably been very pleased with my work.
Similarly, I have many and good friends. I have a wife who loves me deeply, and have had girlfriends who have been attentive, loving and caring before that.
And yet, I cannot seem to bring myself to trusting in the love and appreciation I meet. I, like many other academics, have a clear case of Impostor Syndrome — I am often just waiting for someone to realize how I am not good enough for my job, and take care of the problem: removing me. I am often worried that I simply do not work enough to be able to continue — even in the face of blatant contradictions.
I am surprised when people love me, while simultaneously desperate to earn that love. I am surprised when people cherish my work, while simultaneously pushing myself hard to maintain a high quality standard and high output rates. I am surprised when my boss tells me she wants to keep me around, that I enrich the workgroup that I am in, that they are — in fact — genuinely happy to have hired me, while simultaneously forgetting that they did hire me, they did invite me to host my grant here, they worked with me to make the grant happen.
I don't know why, but even now, even looking straight at my accomplishments, I still tend to feel that anything I want is granted to me as a gracious and thereby capricious boon. Everything good is something I did not in fact deserve, and can be taken away again at a moments notice. And when it does get taken away — this is because I did not, in fact, deserve it in the first place.
It is destructive.
Utterly unfair to the people around me.
And I do not know how to stop thinking in these ways.