I am a huge fan of the Rate Your Students blog. While my favorite parts are the rants about problem-students, I pay close attention to the posts about working in academia because one day, I hope to be doing just that. At least I think I do...you see, I'm terrified of working in a place where my job security relies on student evaluations, where I have to walk on eggshells for several years until I get seemingly out-of-reach tenure, where I must "publish or perish."
I work in an editorial office. Not the kind that puts out newspapers or brochures or magazines. I work in a scholarly/medical journal editorial office. On a daily basis, I send out letters that accept or reject the hard work of doctors and professors. I see that a small percentage of manuscripts get accepted. I deal with people whose jobs may depend on our office's decisions...and it scares the crap out of me.
My confidence is shaky. I look at the things that people do...how much they know...and it seems so superhuman and out of my reach. My M.S. looks far far away, let alone a PhD.
Despite all this, I'm armed with the awareness that I lack confidence; I know that I'm bright and capable and that I'm the biggest obstacle. And that's how all this "I'm going back to school" stuff came about. Because I really don't feel like I can spend the rest of my life reading people's reasearch and wishing I could be doing it instead.
I'm hoping that my confidence will grow as I take classes more related to paleontology and spend some time doing assistant research with professors. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it's okay that I don't know a lot right now...I'm doing everything I can to educate myself. I'm going to continue learning as long as I want to. In the end, I'll only fail if I let myself fail (okay...I'm pretending money isn't an issue).