Why am I so Ashamed of Being Successful?
So...I have always been different. I'm sure many of you can sympathize with being the "smart girl" in the class. I learned at an early age that things go better if I pretend to not be as successful as I am or to hide certain things. You would think this would get better the higher I got up the academic food chain, and it has...to some extent. But there is still a major difference between me and many of my colleagues. I'm almost ashamed to admit it but...
I work about 40 hours a week every week. I rarely work at home.
It seems like most of my colleagues (women and men) work crazy 10, 12+ hour days. Often you hear people comparing the academic version of war stories almost as if it is a contest to see who has worked the longest day. But I have never been like that.
At my Midwestern R1U I am considered fairly successful. I have been here three years now and have received 3 federal grants, given 2 invited talks at international conferences, been asked to serve on 2 journal editorial boards, and mentored students who have received a whole host of awards (Goldwater fellowship, NSF grad research awards, awards from professional society, etc.). As such, the university likes to use me as an example of what to do.
Recently we received one of those grants that promotes women in STEM and we have been having meetings to evaluate the situation on our campus. The primary complaint seems to center around more childcare, and in the context of this I frequently hear people complain about their 12 hour days. One of the options that was presented was part-time appointments. Someone made the joke that sure, then we can just work 40 hours per week instead of 60 or 80. I just cringed inside. I wonder, do other people know that I don't do that? Sometimes it is easier to let people assume that I must just work all the time to achieve what I have rather than that I have been lucky or smart or whatever you want to call it.
At the end of this meeting, Dr. Mrs. Supersuccesful asked to talk to me and we discussed success and women at R1U. I thought here is someone I can finally share my secret 8 hour days with. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I got the weirdest look when I admitted that I don't work crazy hours. (Which is why I never tell anyone.) Then later when discussing this with Awesome As. Dean, she said that I should speak out and let people know that 8 hour days are okay. But honestly, I am still ashamed in some way that I don't work as much as everyone else does and yet still seem to do okay. Which begs the question: Why am I so ashamed of being successful?