First Fig

BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!

This is long, and a little bit like a diary entry - but I could really use some support right now, if anyone is around and doesn’t mind.

Advertisement

I’m struggling right now - I am literally burning my candle at both ends - between my f/t job (that I quit, but am still there for 3 weeks), my dissertation, and various research projects in which I am involved that are super good for me, but take a lot of time.

My boss took my resignation well - but then, true to form, has erupted. Last week she said I needed to cancel my vacation days bc I hadn’t given much notice (I said I couldn’t - and I gave a month’s notice), and she is being insanely demanding - with huge amounts of work to do with crazy deadlines. I know she is freaking out bc no one can do what I do, and replacing me will take a while - but that is how things go. If she valued the people who worked with her, she wouldn’t have such horrific attrition (I am the 4th person to quit in like 2 months). Despite knowing what’s going on with her, it is emotionally exhausting. I am quitting largely bc I just can’t take the emotionality of her any longer, and I cannot juggle everything and graduate next semester. I was already at my breaking point before all of this.

Tonight I got some brutal feedback from a co-author (who I’ve never met) on my part of a manuscript. I’ve cried about it twice tonight already -and my mind just automatically goes to wanting to quit everything, thinking I’m an idiot, thinking I’ll never be anything more than what I am now, ruminating about all of my other failures, and other catastrophic cognitive end points.

Advertisement

This is a completely new area of research for me (as in, I’ve been working in it for like 1.5 months), and it is a personal one. So, it feels a little rough to get such hugely critical feedback. The co-author also cc’ed her student and my mentor on her feedback (both are also co-authors), so it feels like public humiliation (btw, I sent an earlier draft to my mentor over the weekend, and she had some critiques, but liked what I was doing with it - this person pretty much hated it all). This person is very junior at a diff university, and maybe she wanted to kind of show my mentor (who is like one of the biggest names in the field) how good she is? I dunno - I can’t really figure out why she would cc her. The way she gave feedback is so antithetical to how my mentor gives feedback, I’m curious how my mentor views it. She and I are meeting this week, but our meeting is super short and I have a lot to talk to her about, so we probably won’t get to talk about it, which is really too bad.

I just went for a run, am eating a tasty tofu scramble - I’m going to watch some light tv, and tomorrow, I’m going to do my best to work hard at my f/t job and not let my boss get to me. On my day off for school stuff, I’m going to blare Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” and tackle the manuscript.

These things will help, and I will get through this, but right now, I feel gutted. Pep talks are more than welcome - your own stories of stress or overwhelm are more than welcome, as are your stories about how you picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and tried all over again.