Not Being the Best Isn’t the Same as Being Mediocre

Not Being the Best Isn't the Same as Being Mediocre

I’m reading Emilie Wapnick’s book How to Be Everything and I got to this section header and felt like she was speaking very directly to me.

Several weeks ago now I was having a late night conversation with W. We were talking about how he would have fared at my high school, where he would have gone if he hadn’t gone to the local Friends School instead.

“I think you’d be okay. I mean, I was in the middle of my class, and I did alright.”

I was tenth in my high school class of about 300. I was in roughly the top 3%. And I perceived (and apparently, continue to perceive) that as the middle.

When my final report card came, my dad said, “Why didn’t you tell us you were tenth in your class? That’s amazing!” I said, “Well, you know, it’s not like I was valedictorian or salutatorian, so it’s not a big deal.”

I think my perception might be skewed.

It’s a very privileged problem to have, I’m aware, but I suspect this kind of thinking contributes to mental illness in academia.

Newsletter: You Got This

I have been really digging newsletters for the past several months. I’m planning to do a write up of my faves soon. But for now, think about these questions:

Are we BFFs? Should we be BFFs? Do you like to imagine we’re BFFs?

If the answer to any of these is yes, my new newsletter is for you. (Sorry, the two people who signed up for my old secret newsletter… This is a whole different thing. But it’s still for you.)

A really common exercise to help people decide how to spend their time is to ask them to imagine their funeral. What do they want to be remembered for?

The only answer I consistently come up with is that I want the people gathered to all feel, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I cared about them.

My brother-in-law got married this past weekend. My mother-in-law had to give a speech at the rehearsal dinner. She was self-conscious going into it. At the reception, she told me that as she stood there, she thought, “Well, Kimberly would tell me I can do this, so I can.” And thinking of that helped her get through it, and of course she did a beautiful job.

I want as many people as possible to feel that way. I don’t know what kind of reach this newsletter will have or where it will go. But I hope each person who reads it will feel like they’re not alone, like someone believes in them, like someone has their back.

I’m describing it as

Like a high five in your inbox. Platonic love notes and things that made me think of you.

If that sounds like something you would like to have in your life, you can sign up here.


Planning Microtasks to Match Your Energy (or Spoons)

I’m fairly open about the fact that I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and polycystic ovary syndrome and that fatigue is my primary symptom for both of these. I’m in the middle of a Hashimoto’s flare up, and today I sat down and made a little table of the types of tasks I can do depending on what type of day I’m having: low energy, medium energy, or high energy.

This is a valuable table because often I think that, since I’m working on a writing project and a curriculum development project, I can only ever get any work done on high energy days. But that’s not so, because each of those projects is made up of smaller tasks. Writing up my literature review workflow really helped me set up this table. Here it is in list form, in case it would be valuable for anyone else.

Literature Review Tasks

Low Energy

  • Literature search

Medium Energy

  • AIC review
  • concept map
  • revision

High Energy

  • synthetic note
  • memo
  • outlining
  • writing

Curriculum Development

Low Energy

  • identify resources
  • format documents

Medium Energy

  • outline

High Energy

  • write


Internet like it’s 2001

Me, February 2001

I’ve owned my own personal domain since 2001, though it’s a different domain name now than it was then. For the past year or so I’ve been trying to remember how I internetted in 2001, because I’m super nostalgic and think that was my favorite Internet time, and then I remembered that the Internet Archive has my back. So I visited my own domain on the Internet archive and have implemented a few things here inspired by that.

Here they are so far (probably more to come):

  • A “Currently” widget to let you know what I’m enjoying right now
  • A shoutbox widget where you can say hi
  • A “Speaking” page about where you can find me in meatspace
  • A “Following” page full of links with fun annotations

It’s my birthday.

I’m 37 today. It’s a number that sounds grown up. I think I felt more grown up at 27, though.

Maybe I’m Benjamin Buttoning. (Making that reference dates me. The fact that I’m pretty sure I’m repeating a joke I think I’ve already made on this blog and don’t care is also proof of my age.)

It only just occurred to me that reverse Benjamin Buttoning is just normal aging.

I have neither read nor seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I find myself craving inspiration in the form of people sharing their stories with humility. I’m over gurus and authorities.

I long for stories of vulnerability and authenticity.

I miss distant friends.

Yesterday I found out that my thyroid is out of whack again. I’m trying to remember everything I learned before, not just about how to heal, but also how to cope.

I feel despair often, but then there’s this:

My kid is giggling in the tub right now and there’s no better sound in the world.

I’ve forgotten how to feel better.

Most of my adult life has been impacted by chronic illness. I’ve got two: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and polycystic ovary syndrome. (I also have depression and anxiety, but they seem to be symptoms of those two physical illnesses, because when those are well-managed, the mental illnesses are barely noticeable.) I spent many years learning to manage them, and they were fairly well-managed before I got pregnant and for the first two trimesters of my pregnancy. Most importantly, I developed several strategies to use when I feel like absolute garbage.

I can’t remember any of them.

Breastfeeding is a funny thing; it basically takes whatever you knew about your hormones – whether they were affected by PCOS or not – and makes all of that invalid. Now your estrogen is suppressed, you’re producing prolactin, and when it comes to menstruation, all bets are off. So you might, for example, find yourself having your period for 4 or 5 weeks in a row, then not for a week, then again for several more days.

Which might, purely hypothetically speaking, leave you feeling fatigued, lightheaded, and with a sensation of pins-and-needles in your feet.

Perhaps from anemia.

I have, in fact, found myself in this situation, and I have seen my doctor, and she has assured me that yes, this is probably related to breastfeeding, and we’re doing blood tests to figure out next steps in fixing my symptoms, even if the menstrual wonkiness persists. So I’m doing what I can, medically.

But let’s say she puts me on an iron supplement tomorrow. (Likely.)

It’s still going to take some time to feel better. And I don’t know what to do in the meantime, because I can’t just retreat from life.