After a long journey with delays and rerouting and severe weather, it's been great to be back home in Leeds at last. I'm working from home today and tomorrow, organising my archive notes and transcribing the interviews. Some of my colleagues have complained about transcription, so I didn't expect it to be a fun task--but it's surprisingly fun. It's like getting to relive the conversation all over again. I suppose they complain because if the interview wasn't fun the first time around, it'll be even worse listening to it on repeat and typing it all out. I'm also just getting a kick out of it because my interviewees have great accents!
As I said in my last post, the trip gave me a much-needed confidence boost. I won't bother going into all of the causes of my lack of confidence here, but I'll just say why it improved so much over a week. For me, confidence has usually come from being able to 'prove myself'--it comes from accomplishments and impressing others. It's always been an external thing--having my mom say she's proud of me, having a teacher leave positive feedback on an essay, etc. For this week, though, I was on my own. I was spending each day 8am-3pm in the archives, rarely talking to anybody (the archivists were friendly, but most of my time was spent typing away!), and then going home to my empty hotel room. When I looked over my notes at the end of the day, though, I was proud of myself. Nobody was telling me that I'd done a good job, or that they were proud of me for getting up and out early and giving it 110% (as the football coaches always say). It was internal, personal satisfaction and pride. And that's a whole different kind of confidence.
Confidence is so important in this whole PhD process. You have to believe that your project is worthy of 100,000 words and that you are worthy of writing them. It's important for an academic career in general. When lecturing, you have to believe that you're worth listening to for an extended period of time; when marking, you have to believe in your judgment. Even in the dullest lectures (I once accidentally sat in a forestry resources lecture at UW and was too polite to leave), I'm always impressed by the confidence of the lecturer. It's aspirational for me.
So, after all of the negativity and 'dream-breaking' going on in my life lately, I'm feeling back on track and ready to just finish this dissertation and move on to bigger & better things--to find a place where it's easier to feel self-assured.