Stop Second Guessing Yourself

Are you constantly feeling stuck while you are writing?

Do you know what leads many radical scholars to feel stuck? We don’t always feel like we are enough.

Here are some of the ways I see it showing up:

We constantly second guess our research ideas.

We feel miserable about our research.

We feel like we’re constantly anticipating other people’s critiques of our work.

Feeling stuck is not a symptom of what we are often made to believe—that we lack writing or analytical skills.

It’s not you!

You might be feeling this way because:

Your past experiences with academic oppression are playing out in your current reality.

Maybe you received an exceptionally critical review from a journal, colleague, or administrator who was not skilled enough to fairly evaluate your interdisciplinary scholarship?

Maybe your colleagues or administrators repeatedly undermine your research, radical critique, or commitment to activism, abolition, or decolonization?

Or maybe you are overwhelmed with email and all the extra labor that falls on women, queer, BIPOC scholars?

What can you do?

Listen to the signs of anxiety and overwhelm.

You don’t have to work while your nervous system is under assault.

You have options. But it takes time and practice. There is no magic fix to histories of systemic violence.

To build up our confidence, first we need to recognize that we are having these thoughts and feelings.

Explore how it feels physically when you make yourself smaller than others or give their critique power over your sense of grounded-ness, confidence, and self-love.

Explore when these feelings tend to come up. What are your triggers?

Next, acknowledge the past experiences that may be shaping your current thoughts and feelings.

Ask yourself if you are reacting to experiences with oppressive systems that you don’t fully believe in or align with in the first place.

Finally, reground yourself.

Take stock of whether you are reacting to what you think others are thinking about your writing or analysis or if you are grounded in the well of your collective resources?

Don’t judge yourself.

There is no shame in noticing what is happening internally.

Feeling stuck is your nervous system trying to communicate with you.

I believe we all need a practice to reground ourselves in the presence of our inner and collective power. I call mine SAKINA.

In academia, we are always doing, doing, doing.

Yet there is immense power in stopping and pausing.

Noticing your thoughts and emotions is an act of self and collective care and love.

You can’t stop second guessing yourself if you don’t know what is holding you back.

Nadine Naber

Nadine Naber is professor of gender and women’s studies and global Asian studies, and interim director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author and/or co-editor of five books, including Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism (NYU Press, 2012) and Color of Violence (Duke University Press, 2016). She is a TEDx speaker, board member of the Arab American Action Network, co-founder of Mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity, founder of Liberate Your Research, founder of the Arab American Cultural Center, and co-founder of the Arab and Muslim American Studies Program (University of Michigan). Nadine is a Public Voices fellow, columnist for the Chicago Reporter, recipient of the American Studies Association Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Lifetime Achievement Prize and the YWCA's Y-Women's Leadership Award.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *