I am so stressed out about the project that I am currently working on with two other members of my politics and policy class. I realize there is no reason whatsoever to be feeling this way, yet I can't help it. I think I have always struggled with group work.
When I was in school, I was often paired with people who simply didn't care about school (and grades) as much as I did. I was the member of the group doing more than her share to ensure that the group work reflected the quality that I wanted it to. I guess I was under the impression that others in the group would bring me down...not because they weren't smart, but because they didn't put in as much effort as I did. I can even recall getting really frustrated about some group work in grad school because other members of the group did not even read the required material.
I feel like I am good at working with others, cooperation, and collaboration, yet when it comes to an assignment, suddenly the stakes are higher. I am trying to be less attached to my obsession with getting A's because I realize that throughout most of my schooling, despite the fact that I earned A's, I don't think I truly learned and internalized as much as I should have. I am trying to exist in this doctoral program with the attitude that I am learning a ton and if my grade is not an A that is just an indicator of an area where I need to learn some more and where I need to continue growing. So far, I have gotten A's in all of my courses, yet this politics and policy is the first time where I have felt entirely out of my element quite often. The tables have turned and I am no longer the one in the lead.
Since I am skyping in with the actual class instead of just skyping with my adviser, I am getting to know the other members of my cohort that are supposed to serve as this amazing support system as we all go through the program together. I have missed over 2/3 of that bonding time, so I don't have the same level of connection with the other members of the group. I feel part of the group, but it's not the same to be a face on a screen rather than an actual body in the classroom. Since most of the classes consists of guest speakers and group discussions, I have not had too much interaction with specific members of the group on a more personal or small group level...with the exception of this current project.
I was paired with two people who are fantastic. They are well spoken, intelligent, motivated, passionate, and full of ideas. They are constantly asking questions as I sometimes struggle to just sort out the information that was presented. Now, rather than feeling like I am doing more than my share in an effort to compensate for others, I feel like they are having to compensate for me!
Bottom line...I am intimidated!
I know that I am doing well in this program and I was selected for a reason, but up until this term, I was pretty much getting through it on my own which allowed me to to focus entirely on my learning, my understanding, and my work. Now that I am in class and working on a project with other members of the group, I have gone to this place of comparison and intimidation. I have started to doubt whether or not I have enough experience to be doing this now and whether or not I have a broad enough perspective on education to truly "get" everything that we are learning about. The group as a whole is pretty young, but I think I am the youngest. I feel like I am Elle Woods amidst the high brow elite of Harvard Law School. Everyone seems to be so sure and confident and they seem to know exactly where they are going with their ideas and research. I am feeling unsure and nervous that my skills and educational knowledge do not compare.
My group is working on a policy change paper involving the issue of high school dropouts. Both of my partners work in secondary/higher education which leaves me the resident non-expert on our topic. When we got together to discuss, they discussed programs I had never heard of and I had to ask for help in locating the proper resources for my part of the paper. I don't want to be this way, but I am in this self deprecating place where I am convincing myself that I am not as worthy a member of our team as they are. I am frustrated that despite many compliments from others about my technologically enhanced role in the class that I can still feel so small in comparison to my larger than life superstar colleagues.
Despite these feelings that I am trying to shake, I am realizing that working with people who have entirely different experiences than I have does not diminish me and the path I have taken, rather it provides me with a fabulous opportunity to learn from them and gather knowledge in many different areas. I don't claim to be an expert in anything, yet if we were doing a project involving students with special needs, ELL students, or elementary aged students, I would have tons to share. I am intimidated because I don't know everything they know, but that is the point.
We learn from people who know what we don't.
Maybe in this situation I am not the one getting to help someone else make learning gains and fantastic realizations, but that's okay.
Most often it is the situations that make us feel most uncomfortable that truly stretch our character and help us come out stronger on the other end. I have felt confused, uninformed, and overwhelmed at various point during this class, yet I will guarantee that when I am all done with my program it will stand out as one of the classes in which I learned the most. Policy and politics are not areas in which I know a lot, yet through taking this course, I have really broadened my perspective on education as whole and I am happy about that.
I am happy with the final result of the piece I have written and I am sure my team members will be too. I am tired of my main focus being on feelings of inferiority because it doesn't get me anywhere. Recognizing that when something is difficult it means I am learning and broadening my understanding is more in alignment with the person and educator I want to be.
Do you compare yourself to others?