From feeling like an imposter… to…belonging…

If you stop and think about it for a moment, if you slow down to such an extent that you can catch up with yourself: do you feel you belong in the academy?


If you reflect upon your internal dialogue, the things you say to yourself on a regular basis, are you pushing yourself to be more like others, to fit in, are you querying to see whether you are ‘like’ those you think ‘belong’?

Do you ever sit in a circle of colleagues, whether in a regular staff meeting or at a conference or something wholly different, and feel like you are the only one who does not have a clue what it is you are doing? I mean, of course, you were trained to set up and execute research and you are working on a research project, and you have ideas about teaching, and though doing your administrative tasks does not really bring you energy… you are doing it in a somewhat orderly fashion… So, you are working. That’s not it. It’s just… you know… everyone else seems to be really ‘in the zone’ and you feel like you should be in a zone at least.

And before you know it… you unconsciously are… moving away from yourself… trying to be more like those others that seem ‘successful’ to you.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if someone told you that the answer to ‘belonging’ lies within you.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone reminded you that the solution to your ‘longing to belong’ lies within appreciating and caring for your specific talents, interests, your curiosity. Wouldn’t you love to be reminded that you are doing fine, and that you will excel as soon as you start to take your own passions seriously.

Wouldn’t you want to care for yourself in such a way that you even speak out loud… about your priorities, your curiosity, about what intrigues you, what you really – and I mean: rrrreally – want to know, discover, understand. To just take the space that you really need.

So, if you feel sort of out of place in the academy, thinking that all the others belong…, thinking that if people knew what your passions and curiosities and skills were they would certainly think you have no business working in the academia…, please start fantasizing. Start fantasizing about what your ideal academy would look like, and start working in that imaginary environment. Yeah… you might think:

‘Has Anna lost her mind? Working in an imaginary academia? Let’s get real, okay?!’

My answer to you is…

You are already working in an imaginary academia. Your current imaginary academy is one that excludes you and includes all of those successful people.

My simple request to you is to just change the way you are going about your imagination process… Please, just start making your imaginations more fun, and about how you are included and in the right place.

So… take the following questions with you… just to ponder about… don’t worry… you are allowed to do your work and chores, and everything that needs to get off your plate right now… but use your imagination time to ponder about the following questions and stop imagining that you don’t belong…

What would your academy look like, ideally, for you to fit in effortlessly? How would you go about ‘carving out your niche’ to contribute to the academy you long for?  Would it be a place where you are challenged to not only rethink your assumptions about phenomena in academic debates, but would it challenge you in terms of embodied practices as well: how we go about our teaching, our research, our administration, and… our caring for each other?

Which ‘needs alive in you’ – simply the stuff you long for – would get voiced and are now – if you are being honest with yourself – easily tucked away while running our ‘business’ as ‘usual’?
What is the stuff that needs articulation which in reality gets put aside by you, while you hold your breath and move along with the dynamics that you sometimes – er… frequently… –  approach, perceive, receive and appropriate as ‘the way things are’?


So… my request to you is… just for a couple of days:

  • use your imagination in such a way that you feel you belong in the academy
  • be aware of what is alive in you in terms of an ideal academy
  • give some space to imagining that you are ‘carving out your niche’
  • care for yourself, and whenever a sturdy internal dialogue comes along… (e.g. ‘you are running late’, ‘shouldn’t you be doing something useful?’, ‘gosh… really… does this need to take forever to get done? hurry a little, won’t you’ (get the pic?)): don’t push those thoughts away.. simply allow them, recognize them as just a couple of the 60.000 thoughts we have on a daily basis.. you can’t take every thought seriously… there are too many… so choose the thoughts you want to run with carefully…

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