Inside my dark pit of despair and self-loathing

Today’s post comes from the file marked, “Things you’re not going to get to do after all”.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but Amanda and I were invited to the Pop Culture Conference in Indianapolis to give a presentation on a paper we’ve been working on about the uniqueness of competition within female fandoms. We had to submit an abstract of the paper to the convention committee and in turn we were invited to come present our work. It was, and is, a huge honor to be invited. Academics from all over the world will be in attendance, many of whom are authors of the books we’ve been reading on the subject of fandom. Quite frankly, Amanda and I were geeking out just by talking about the opportunities we’d have to meet people, listen to talks about various subjects, and get our creative juices flowing.

We have been working on the paper off and on since we got word of being accepted, with the intention that I would fly to Madison over the weekend of March 24, we’d work to polish the paper and presentation together, and then drive to Indianapolis in time for the conference. It was going to be a real Thelma and Louise week for us, and we were both very excited.

For Amanda and I, this small victory comes from nearly a decade in total filled with research, observing, writing, and blogging. A lot of people, including my own family, thought we were nuts for doing all of this. I’d been told more than once that this is just an excuse to have fun and waste money. Not that I agree, but the words were put out there regardless, not to mention the countless insinuations.

I felt like having this invitation to present validated the time I’d spent on the blog, the writing, the traveling and yeah, even seeing Duran Duran.  The guilt of doing something that the rest of the family didn’t think I should be doing really tore at me, and continues to this day.  I never felt like I could justify my time or reasoning, and yeah for me, that mattered. I would constantly tell myself that we’d written not one, not two, but nearly three manuscripts (and we’re still working on that third one), and we were not going to give up. Hearing that our abstract for a paper had been accepted was so huge, I couldn’t put it into words. Still can’t. I needed that vindication.

There is this cliché that reads, “Life happens when you are making other plans”.  The words hit so close to home that I’m going to have them on my headstone someday.  Through a series of events we’ll just call “life”, I’ve learned that most of the time, I feel like I’ve got to put the wants and needs of other people first. This is one of those times.

As many know, my husband was laid off from his job in late November. He’s still interviewing and looking for work. The trip to Indianapolis is coming up rapidly. This trip does not equate to a paying job, or even an opportunity to make money. It is a chance to share new perspectives through this paper with academics and perhaps receive feedback. Sure, there’s the potential for learning, and networking, but I cannot deny that for the most part it would be mainly self-satisfaction that I’d be gaining by going.  While perhaps a worthy reason, it is not enough to justify the trip.

Yes, I’m disappointed. Aside from this morning while writing, I’m trying not to even think about it.  My success with that is pretty wobbly on good days, and on bad ones—and there have been quite a few of those lately— I just feel sorry for myself, which is nauseating. There’s definitely a part of me that feels like I’m the one always having to push aside my own wants and needs, which feels a lot like wallowing in my own self-pity, because it IS. In other equally weak and shameless moments, I envision myself sloshing around and slowly drowning in a dank pit of self-loathing, as I blame other influential, extended family members on my decision to remain at home. The peer pressure to be known as a good, caring, and selfless wife within my extended family is real. I want to please the right people by making a good decision. Basically, I’m a people-pleaser who is hopelessly addicted to affirmation from others. Rock on!

The final decision to stay at home from the conference was my own. Enough of that self-serving junk. I’m pushing the unhelpful thoughts aside, letting them go, and moving on.

So, Amanda is going to go and deliver the presentation on her own. As the abstract of our paper states, it is authored by the two of us, and I am continuing to work on it with her. But, it will be Amanda at the convention and I am sure she will do a fantastic job. I have high hopes that something good will come out of this for her, even if I am not able to take an active part there at the convention itself.  I hate that I’m not going, more than I want to admit.

In the meantime, I know many of you are wondering about OUR convention. I am not going to lie, I’ve been side-tracked lately. Surprise!! Emotionally, I haven’t been able to commit myself to more than what’s already on my plate. That said, Amanda and I are going to talk about it, figure some things out, and move forward.  Watch this space, and I appreciate your patience.

-R

2 thoughts on “Inside my dark pit of despair and self-loathing”

  1. I can totally empathize with how you feel. And I respect and understand your decision. As someone who has presented often, and attended even more conferences, I can say that what is most important is that your name is on it. It is your joint work, and people will know that. She can even mention that you were supposed to join her, but due to personal matters you weren’t able to. That might reinforce your role and help your name stick in people’s heads. They’ll empathize with you. Most of the time only one author gets to present the work, so it won’t be unusual, and it won’t hurt you professionally that you aren’t on stage. Of course the networking and schmoozing is quite valuable, but Amanda will share her new contacts and make those connections. I’ve been in the position of having to turn down great opportunities, and it’s so very hard to do, even when you know it’s the best thing to do.

  2. so sorry you had to give up to this opportunity, but I respect your decision.
    It makes sense your partner in crime will have to do plans B to empathize your name.
    Rock on!

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