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#reverb10, Day 11: 11 Things

I started this post yesterday, hoping to get myself back on schedule, but a visit to some relatives intervened and kept me from finishing it. In any case, yesterday’s prompt:

11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

My first response to which was eleven? I’ve been having a hard enough time coming up with one thing for each of these posts: one bit of wisdom, one party, one community, and so on.

But maybe the one-ness of those things was part of the issue I was having — the quest to figure out the singular correct answer to the question. So perhaps the exercise of thinking out loud about some things I’d like to eliminate from my life, with 11 as a perfectly reasonable and utterly arbitrary number, might be a good idea.

1. Perfectionism. Which is not to say that I don’t want my work to be as good as it can be. But it is to say that I need to follow my own advice about valuing process over product a bit more, as well as embrace the “release early and often” ethos that’s been so productive in other parts of the digital humanities. Letting my perfectionism go a bit will benefit a lot of areas of my life, but perhaps this blog most of all — rather than sitting around waiting for the right idea for a blog post to hit me, I might instead generate that idea by allowing myself this kind of thinking out loud.

2. Guilt. I don’t mean getting rid of guilt wholesale, here; there are some kinds of guilt that are both deserved and useful. But it would be lovely to shake that persistent feeling that I’m not paying enough attention to [fill in blank], whether it’s a project, my teaching, my administrative responsibilities, my fitness, my diet, or whathaveyou. As I joked on Twitter a while back: “It is a known fact that of all the categories of my life activities, at least one such category must be sucking wind at all times.” It’s primarily true because it’s impossible for me to do everything, and something always suffers when I try. I’m determined to stop feeling guilty about that, especially where I honestly can’t pare away the things that I’m doing.

3. Insecurity. As long as I’m getting rid of counter-productive emotional responses to circumstances that can’t be changed, let me go ahead and shake the lingering insecurities that I’ve been carrying with me since grad school, that ongoing anxiety that my state-school education can’t ever measure up to the elite pedigrees of my friends and colleagues, that I didn’t take any of the classes I should have taken as an undergrad or in grad school, etc., etc. I’ve managed to do quite a lot with what I had, and though my alma mater could never open any doors for me, I’ve done an awfully good job of opening them myself. And while I’m at it:

4. Resentment. I also need to let go of my bitterness over the folks whose pedigrees have opened doors for them. Good for them. I’m doing fine.

Other things? How about:

5. The thing that I can’t come up with a word for that drives me to feel like I’ve constantly got to be making forward progress, but that quantifies progress in the narrowest possible ways. Like somehow only feeling productive if I’ve actually written new pages that day, rather than understanding that reading is work, too. The bottom line is that I’ve gotten promoted pretty much up to where I’m able to get promoted to, and perhaps it’s a good moment for me to draw a breath and think.

6. Whatever it is that’s burning a hole in my stomach. Seriously. I’ve been dealing with various forms of unpleasant stomach stuff for the last six months or more, and enough already. This one I definitely plan to eliminate as quickly as possible.

And… um… I’m now out of the major stuff, I think, so I’m going to cheat a bit and say:

7-11. Five pounds. Which is all of the kinds of New Year’s Resolutionsy stuff I hate. But eliminating five pounds in 2011 would be awesome, admit it.


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