I’ve continued to feel kind of sad and introspective lately, for a number of reasons. My life is going fine overall, but I’m still very lonely and frustrated socially, and my job can also be pretty frustrating at times. The weather in Anchorage has also been gray and rainy off and on for several weeks now, which doesn’t help. I also just kind of hate this time of year in general, mostly because of the High Holy Days. I went to Rosh Hashanah services at the Reform synagogue here, like I did last year, and I do like the services there, but the whole focus on repentance and atonement has never been very comfortable for me, and is particularly so this year. To top it all off, I’ve got a terrible cold (or something) that started on Friday, so I’ve been coughing and generally uncomfortable for a few days now and presumably will be for a few days more. I’m not sure if I’ll even be able to fast on Yom Kippur. If I keep feeling this bad I probably won’t. I’m hoping I can make this New Year season the start of a new, happier time of my life, but it’s not looking promising so far. (I did learn that the synagogue has a new group for young professionals that puts on events, so I’ll try that out and see if it helps me to meet people and develop more of a social life.)
Anyway, in the course of all this, I’ve realized that one of the main things underlying my current funk is that I’ve suffered a major loss of confidence since moving to Alaska. Back when I was at Chaco, and even in grad school, I felt pretty confident about my place and my knowledge of whatever it was I had to know. Coming up here, though, has meant learning a huge amount of new stuff, in the company of lots of people who already know it, and that’s just not a very comfortable place for me. I want to be the expert, not the novice. I’ve been learning as much as I can, and I’ve been quite successful at that, but I still have a long way to go, and some of my ways of showing that knowledge seem to be rubbing some other people (mostly at work) the wrong way. It’s totally understandable, of course, that these very experienced, highly skilled people who grew up in Alaska (in many cases) are not very thrilled with some upstart young Ivy-Leaguer acting like a know-it-all about their own areas of expertise. I’ve tried to not step on people’s toes, but recently I’ve been realizing that I haven’t been totally successful at that, and a co-worker gave me an unexpected tongue-lashing today that was pretty unpleasant, though totally accurate in that all the criticisms of me she made were totally true.
I think this lack of confidence, reinforced by other events, has contributed to my social problems as well, in combination with my usually shyness and reticence. I just don’t have it in me right now to put a big effort into contacting people I meet and trying to develop more substantial friendships. This is one of those problems that I think I could overcome if I were able to muster the confidence, but right now I can’t. Hopefully I’ll develop more confidence as I get more comfortable here, and I’ll be able to take care of this kind of problem.
In addition, I’ve recently begun thinking more seriously about writing a book about Chaco, but as I’ve begun to write some stuff and think carefully about the book I want to write I’m realizing that that’s going to be really a lot of work, and I probably can’t do it in the spare time I have while I’m working this job. I mean, I haven’t even been able to blog consistently about Chaco, let alone write a book about it. I have recently begun reading stuff about Chaco again after a long hiatus, and i started taking a class at UAA (in Yup’ik), which has given me access to academic databases again, so I’m in a better position to start working seriously on a project like this than I’ve ever been before. I just don’t feel very confident right now that I’ll be able to put in that time and effort given the other circumstances of my life. This problem will probably be easier to overcome than the social one; I guess I’ll just see what happens in the next few months.
So yeah, that’s more or less where I am now. I’m still pretty sad, but writing all this out has been helpful in clarifying what I’ve been thinking lately about my life, and at least identifying these problems more specifically will hopefully make it easier to start solving them.