The Negativity Games

I have recently been scared out of my wits about any prospects I thought I might have had regarding having a career. (Sorry about that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not breaking any grammar rules. Then again, English is not my first language; so if that was not a sentence, please correct me in the comments :)). I read this post about why women run away from academia (it’s too hard), which led me to this post about how mothers have a real disadvantage when it comes to careers. Also, there was this article that argued how hard it is to even prepare for a job application in academia, let alone get an interview. To top it all off, I read this article written by a guy who just gave up the prospect of having a faculty job. Apparently it’s a trend (#altac), and it makes having two or three years of “field” experience sort of a requirement. As an (almost) fourth year, not 27 anymore, mother of two, PhD student I really felt like curling up in a ball and cry.

This linked up in my head to a point I made in a previous post. Briefly, it feels to me like some of the mom blogs out there are really just a stage for bitching. Also posting cute kids pictures, but mainly bitching. I’m all for bitching: it lets you blow off steam and sometimes it’s really cathartic. However, I really have a problem with this negative trend.

It’s not that I don’t think there’s no room for complaining. On the contrary, I think the glory of blogs is that they expose the good and the bad of whatever they are written about. Having a bad time is part of the human experience, and it should be talked about and recognized just like having a good time. As a psychologist (and as someone who had been to therapy quite a lot) I know that facing the problems is much better than ignoring them. And I bitch too. A lot.

But something irks me about having a negative-quality general feeling after reading blogs. And I thought about why is that. At this point, I’d like to tell you a story about my 2.5-year-old son. We have a back yard, with a few stairs going from the back door down. We were in the yard last weekend and he climbed onto the third step, and then stood there, looking out at the yard. Then he jumped down to the ground. I nearly had a heart attack, of course, but that’s not my point. My point is that if I had thought he was going to jump, I would have told him that he couldn’t. I would have told him it was dangerous, and that he’s likely to fall on his head and get rushed to the ER (yes, we’re saving for therapy). I would have told him all the negative stuff. But since it didn’t occur to me that he’s going to jump three steps, I didn’t tell him any of these things. And he jumped. And he landed on both feet, steadied himself, looked at me (in shock) and said: “wow, what a big jump!”

The moral of the story, I guess, is that if you don’t think about the negative stuff, and you just jump, you might even land right. I’m fully aware that I sound like a life-coach, and I apologize. But I’ve been thinking in the last few days, since the infamous jump, that maybe I tell him he can’t do stuff too many times. He’s not 3 yet; he should be trying out gravity and testing heights and examining mommy’s reactions to his crazy stunts. And I read this great post that talked about saying yes to kids’ crazy ideas (although I’m not sure having a picnic under the table counts as crazy at our house – that’s pretty much standard lunch). My point is that everyone will agree that we should tell our kids yes more, and stop putting them down by telling them about gravity and other depressing forces of nature.

So, I wondered: why do we tell ourselves no all the time? Why do we lavish in the negative aspects of academia (or our jobs) and parenting? Why not just take the leap, and see if maybe we could land on our feet?

What do you think? Do you hate how I sound like a yoga instructor or do you also feel you’ve had enough of the negativity?

@2015 - Gal Podjarny