Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Said/Heard

Yesterday I worked on a manuscript with a long-time colleague. We work together pretty well, although I stress her out from time to time (where time, t = often). We also have fun and laugh a lot as we work.

After we'd been working and talking for a while, my colleague said "You were right, I was being stupid" (in reference to a minor and temporary technical issue that we easily sorted out together). I said "I never said you were stupid". She thought about it for a moment and realized that I had not said she was stupid, and she said that this was really typical of her. If she's not feeling confident about a topic, she feels stupid. We've been working together for 10 years. Of course I don't think she is stupid. This woman has a Ph.D., a faculty position, and a severe case of low confidence.

Working with me might not help her with her confidence issues on a day-to-day basis, but overall we make a pretty good team. She has some expertise that I do not have, but she does not like to write (and I do). The papers we have written together have been important for both of our careers. So, despite our very different approaches to research and life, together we get things done -- not as quickly as I would like and not as low-stress as she would like.

Last year, I created a cartoon for our research group newsletter. The cartoon fairly accurately depicts this particular working relationship, including how annoying I am to work with and how my colleague effectively neutralizes my insane plans. For this blog, I replaced my photograph with my logo, and my colleague's photo with a symbolic element.






13 comments:

Amanda said...

I want to teach/do research and I'm of the low self confidence variety. It's nice to hear that someone like that can still succeed in your field...and that their colleagues admire them.

This worries me the most...I feel like science and high-confidence go hand in hand...but maybe people aren't as confident as I think. :) Thanks.

Andrea said...

that is too funny!

anon said...

You're lucky there are so many cafes around your department. We've only got one Starbucks and the local university coffee dispensing places suck. Also, mocha is too calorie-rich. Just get an Americano.

Ms.PhD said...

you seem different in the cartoon vs. how you sound in your typical blogs.

the main difference i notice is the energy level. in your blog you seem pretty relaxed. in the cartoon you seem like a type A go-getter.

so which is it?

i am probably the opposite - more strident in my blog than in real life.

nickel said...

I've always thought I'd have lingering effects of impostor syndrome for my entire career. I'm not sure why I've heard it's bad to be confident.

I admit that I don't frequent cafes much as I can't stand to think of all the coffee cup waste...it's up there with buying bottled water.

Anonymous said...

I would pay money to have a go-gettem colleague who wants to write 3 or 27 papers with me. What riches.

Female Science Professor said...

nickel -- There is an amazing invention called a 'mug' that can help you maintain an adequate level of caffeine without harming the environment.

ms.phd -- The cartoon is a caricature, exaggerating and somewhat distorting elements of my personality (but elements that are definitely there).

last anonymous -- how much?

postdoc said...

Fantastic. Although I think your partner in crime should stop proffering mochas, as they likely contribute to your enthusiastic outbursts....

In contrast to Ms PhD, I think FSP comes across as a go-getter in the blog, too (lots of references to her getting work done in vast quantities), but she has the unusual ability to be a go-getter without exploding in rage at her bizarre colleagues and family members when they try to manipulate her. Instead, she vents it here, with some perspective, where we can all benefit from it. Wish I had such skills!

nickel said...

Oh, I am very fond of the invention. It's just seeing everyone else's waste that is depressing.

lost academic said...

Today you have brought the altogether too rare smile across my face in an increasingly stressful environment where my two main roles are literally set up such that I cannot succeed at either. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, really the other FSP should be offering *decaff* mochas.

last anonymous -- how much?

Well, how much would you take? I'm a different anonymous, but I too would pay someone to bug me into writing up my work. It all seems so much more pure and beautiful when it's all in my head :-)But, no one but me thinks that.

SaraJ said...

I am the person who proposes a zillion papers in a semester, too! And I also need to switch to decaf.

My question to you, dear FSP, is: how do you keep your co-author motivated through the low-confidence doldrums?

I notice that I get really frustrated with this after a while and just don't want to work with that person any more... but then I have a (calorie laden) Chai tea and I'm all happy and proposal-y again.

chall said...

It's interesting and comforting to see that other poeple with low self confidence in certain areas can succeed in science.

I am on the verge of saying 'it's not going to be me tenture tracking' due to confidence issues and feeling of being stupid and a tad bit lazy. Especially nowaday when the manuscript I am writing feels really low and not well written at all. Better get a go at it right now! :) thanks for the posts and thoughts!