This year was my first as a professor, and like a good lifelong learner, I've been trying to pay attention and get something out of it. Here's a list of good and bad discoveries, in no particular order.
1) I am not as horrible at my job as I fear I am. I learned this when I got my evals back for my large lecture class, and discovered that I got high marks from almost everyone in the course. This was only weeks after I had a breakdown in fear that I had irrevocably messed up my course and my reputation as a teacher. I had been so convinced that I stink that I was terrified to get my reviews. And then it turns out I did fine, and several of my students from that class were repeats this semester, and several others have asked me to be their adviser. So go figure.
2) I'm also not as good as I want to be. I've always been unorganized, but I let that get in the way of teaching a few times this semester and it made me feel bad and inept. We'll see what that means on my evals this semester, but I hope my honesty and enthusiasm make up for some of the absent-minded professorisms. Nonetheless, I gotta work on some serious skills in this area of my life. I'm a mess!
3) Despite my general self-loathing and continual apprehension about what students really think of me, I am relieved to find that I really love what I do. So now I just have to build my confidence to match that. It feels amazing to know that all those years of school were worth it for this job. Even when I'm feeling (as I'm feeling now) like I'll never get all the grading done.
4) I'm not a happy person even when I'm happy. I'm not sure what it will take for me to embrace the happiness that I know I deserve. I continually fight the slump, the dissatisfaction, the anger, and the overall unhappiness that seems to follow me around. The past few weeks, it has been nearly unbearable, and I am not sure why that is. I keep writing it off to being tired, but it's not like I haven't been tired before. I've learned that I need to get to the bottom of it if I don't want it to destroy my career, as well as, potentially, my overall life. I just don't yet know how to do that.
5) I've learned that Wisconsin is near Iowa in geography, but a far distance in many cultural senses. The constant presence of beer--in the most unexpected places--continues to surprise me. I've learned that I enjoy the stuff more than I thought I did, but I also learned that it's easy to pack on a few pounds with a simple glass of liquid. The occasional, single beer to be social can turn into a few extra pounds in no time. No wonder this is one of the most obese states in the U.S. And no wonder my pants are tight.
6) I've learned that people are nice. I am lucky to be in a department full of really, genuinely nice people. I have little in common with many of them, but I love spending time with them all the same. They are good, fun, caring people around here. In academia, that's not all that common (alas), so I am particularly grateful to all of them. And I hope they don't think I'm a raving lunatic, though I'm sure I sometimes seem that way.
7) I actually am a raving lunatic.