Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Support

Last night Big J and I were watching an episode of Scrubs and, after watching a scene in which Carla realizes that it's okay to ask for help after having a baby, I started to think about the importance of support. I had emailed my dear cousin/sister Ms. A to vent yesterday. I was able to tell her things that I just can't share with Big J. I have some real fears about my dissertation that have, lately, been pretty debilitating. Ms. A, in her calm and infinite wisdom, talked me down. And although the rest of the day wasn't a banner one, I felt better and able to function and attend a dissertation support group that evening.

I know that this has been written about, studied, researched, etc. but I truly feel that ours is a culture of individualism and that is often to the detriment of individuals. We are raised to depend on ourselves and be proud of our accomplishments, we are rarely encouraged to seek help -- it's somehow a bigger and better accomplishment if we slog through it on our own. Grades are based on individual accomplishment -- even group projects are ultimately graded by individual performance rather than the performance of the whole group.

I think we (and by we I mean Americans) give lip service to interdependence, but individualism is so ingrained that it is hard to fully commit to a life of interdependence. And I think this is especially true in academia. Yes, ultimately my dissertation is my own. But surrounding myself with and relying on people that understand, truly empathize, is the only way that I will get this "little paper" done.

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