I began today with a feeling of fresh, new beginnings. Or perhaps more aptly, I could say that I have the sense of hope that comes with the realization that I don’t need to reinvent myself at all, but in fact could simply fully be what I am.
I’ve been working in academia for almost 20 years now; much of this time I have spent questioning my belonging in this arena, despite the fact that I was promoted to the rank of full professor by a committee of my peers a few years ago. I’ve felt that I was “not an academic but a performer” (and therefore, by definition, less-than). I’ve felt that I was an intuitive (and probably very good) teacher, but that I didn’t have any kind of quantifiable “method” (and therefore, by definition, less-than). And today, in the aftermath of what was an astonishingly powerful artistic achievement of my students–a fully digital, filmed, online performance of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, which was my original vision (although it was executed by an incredible team of colleagues who realized it) and which I shepherded through to completion–I know that I am, in fact, a researcher, a pioneer, a visionary. [It feels scary to say these words; I feel arrogant, even though I know they are true].
Furthermore, the witnessing of the capstone projects of my two Directed Study students (one of which was presented this week, the other of which is near completion), who have taken what tools I have given them and completely flown far beyond what I ever could have imagined, make me realize that I am also an academic in my own right. Not perhaps in the stuffy, traditional sense, but in the sense of someone willing to push and explode boundaries, ask difficult questions, take risks and chart new territory.
All of this feels powerful. And not just a little bit overwhelming (how safe it is to stay in the little box of “I’m not enough”). I thank the students who have shown me, by their example, that I can be just as fearless as they are, and indeed, that it has been (in some small or even large way) my guidance and encouragement that helped them be fearless in the first place. So today, this new day is dawning where I step forward, unapologetic, and announce who I am and what I have to say. Humbly. Bravely. Wholeheartedly. My singing self is emerging, exploding in multiple directions: as artist, facilitator, guide, mentor, collaborator, investigator, researcher, explorer, writer, learner. There are no limits to where this can go. The day ahead is bright. Carpe Diem.