Emerging into Authentic Academic Life: Anxiety, Masks of Selves, Mindful Observation and Perfectionist Performance
This chapter describes experiences associated with the demands of a doctoral program, which is known to pose personal and professional risks for candidates and sees low attrition and completion rates. Current studies suggest that problems in areas of supervision, finance and academic performance increase candidates’ feeling of isolation, anxiety and emotional exhaustion. Perfectionist tendencies, anxiety and the very real risk of non-completion are discussed in this chapter as triggers for negative self-preservation behaviours. Drawing on my personal narrative of the candidature years, I explore my lived experience of the disintegration of the self through the use of dramaturgy framework. I highlight the complexities of the academic setting and the grappling with appearance and performance. I trace the shifts in my personal capacity to see and regulate masking of self through describing the struggles of an eating disorder towards an experience of an authentic Aware Self. Extracts from my personal journals are used to share some strategies based on yoga and mindful practice that have helped to break free from measured perfectionism. The chapter offers ways of knowing the self(s) in a Ph.D. candidature and may help doctoral candidates and supervisors to identify points of need to support those who seem to have it all under control.
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