Dealing with Academic Setbacks

I’ll admit it.  I’m not perfect.  This is something that I think we, as academics and perhaps as human beings in general, have a hard time admitting.  But it’s the truth.

We live in a competitive world.  Grant money is scarce, publications are judged harshly for the sake of good science, and audience and committee members are critical for the same reason.

I, like many others, was raised to believe that, with hard work, I could accomplish anything.  During times like these, though, I must admit that this is not always the case.  Hard work is valuable, no doubt.  But sleepless nights and to-do lists completed do not necessarily equate to goals reached.  Sometimes our honest-to-goodness best is just not good enough.  Sometimes papers and posters are rejected.  Sometimes meetings and talks do not go well.  Sometimes funding does not come through.  Sometimes things just do not go as we hope.  The best laid plans…

As such, I’m currently facing an academic setback.  It’s my first, and I suspect that it will not be my last.  It’s something that we all face from time to time, and I’m very fortunate that this minor deviation from plans is the worst that I have seen so far in my career.

I’m also fortunate in that I know that I will be stronger for having faced this situation.  I will learn from my mistakes and I will forever be stronger.  I’ve also learned that I have an invaluable support system in my friends and that I will never be alone in my struggles to become the best that I can be.

So, ultimately, I must admit that this setback is, perhaps, not a setback at all.  Rather, it is a deviation from my plans that is leading me down an even better path than I had once imagined.

For now, though, I’ll take time to reflect and to move onto the lesser-known sixth stage of the Kubler-Ross model of grief– BAKING.

How about you, blogosphere?  How do you react when things don’t quite go to plan?  I’ll be happy to share fresh-baked bread with those with helpful insight.  ;)


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