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The Laursonian Institute

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I’m having a day where I am simultaneously too big and too small for my own skin.  It’s impossible to explain the feeling of being too big for your own life, but it always reminds me of the Mayakovsky poem “A Cloud In Trousers”… one of the things I love best about Mayakovsky’s early work is the amazing clarity with which he can write about feeling disconnected from reality in an introspective, sometimes manic, cold, sad way.  That’s what feeling too big for your own skin feels like.  It feels like you have the ability to accidentally crush things, to destroy the important items in your life, to tear down all you believe in from neglected attention.  Unlike Mayakovsky, this doesn’t appear to ever cause me to walk down the street and call out the failings of others.  It makes me want to sit down, very quietly, and wait for it to blow over.  It makes me want to not open my mouth, to fail at conversations because it’s impossible to attend to what’s being said.  My hands bump into things, my feet trip over themselves, my gaze wanders.. my brain reduces to deplorable, functionless matter.

And this always happens as a result of feeling too small.  I’ve come across a bunch of stuff in cleaning lately, like old (we’re talking freshman year vintage) papers I’ve written, class notes, assignments, and some personality profiles I had to do for various offices I’ve worked in.  It all adds up to the same thing to me – that I don’t think I’m good enough to be doing what I want to be doing.  What I want to be do is become a professor of phonology.   All I have in my portfolio looks like mediocre work, me thinking too highly of my abilities, and this personality profile that tells me I’m great at organization and detailed execution, and crap at “big picture, abstract theorizing, and creative thinking”.  I just don’t think I can be any good as a researcher without theory, big picture, and creativity.  I know these personality profiles are ridiculous, but the damage is sort of already done.  It’s like reading a self-help book – when it says what you already believe, it takes on the timbre of reliability and truth.

I’m just full of feeling useless, lost, and unspecial.  And poor.  Make me think about how I’m never going to succeed in doing anything I like, and so I should just drop out and get a real job and support our family so some day so we can afford to have not only a car, but maybe even children!  And once I get started with this smallness, everything slides in to place to make it sound like some sort of cabal.  Like I’m just realizing a conspiracy that no one thinks I’m very interesting or worthwhile, and that’s why things work out the way they do.  Why I have no advisor, why I can’t seem to get into this neuro thing, why my parents moved away, why I’m cleaning the house instead of living.  Argh.  I’ve been through this loop so many times I can’t even count.  I know I’ll sleep it off sooner or later.  Life will change, become busy, gain purpose, feel meaningful again.  I’ve just got to wait it out.

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