Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Imposter Syndrome

I’ve got a secret. Please don’t tell anyone.
I don’t know what I’m doing.
I know it may come as a shock seeing as how I’ve spent 2 months in Chile and completed 18 interviews. The first one was terrible. The last one was better than terrible. Yes, it got progressively easier to ask the questions, refine the conversation and seek out what I thought I wanted to know. Now, I have hours of recordings and a hard drive full of material to sift through but I can’t shake the feeling that I am missing something. I want to collect it all but I don’t know what will be useful and what will just take up space in my suitcase. Thankfully, in this digital age a lot of information will be available to me once I return to Canada even if I can’t locate it here in Chile but I don’t want to look back on my time here and worry that I missed something important.
I thought that as I moved through the interviews I would have a better idea of what I was asking, what it was I really wanted to know. I suppose that in a way, I do have a better idea of where I am going with my research than I did when I first got here. To begin, I expected (foolishly) the women I interviewed to think the same way I do. Put that blatantly in writing it seems ridiculous to say such a thing but I think that deep down I thought the women would tell me how hard it is to be a Mapuche women leader and how much resistance they had encountered along the way. Of course, they shared with me some of the challenges but in their voice and with their worldview, not mine. I think that if I have learned anything up to this point, it is that the experience really does trump the theoretical knowledge.
I don’t feel any smarter. In fact, I almost feel like I know less in some ways.
My friends will be here in less than 2 weeks and my husband will arrive shortly after, marking the end of my period of solitary reflection and investigation. Strangely, I feel much the same now as I did before leaving Canada to come here- full of anticipation, anxiety and a little fear. I want to look back on this time and feel proud about my efforts and my accomplishments. I don’t want to regret anything. Is that impossible?
There is always going to be something that could have been different, something else that I could have done. I suppose, it’s all in the way you look at it. It’s a choice.
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc play---wait, I got carried away there.
Choose your future. I choose to be successful at this thing that I’m doing right now. Punto.

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