Monday, March 22, 2010

Panic mode!

Hi, I'm back! Remember how I didn't post much because I didn't have anything to complain about? Ok, here's a post. Well, not really a complaint, but I'm officially in panic mode, and it's my own fault.

I love, love, love my postdoc job. And I love, love, love my boss. In a he's the smartest-most-dedicated-best boss in the world kind of way. Of all the things I like about him, I think his best feature is that he very quickly realizes your strengths in the lab, and he tailors (as much as possible) your project to match with your talents. This results in a happy cycle of liking-what-you-do -> doing-it-well -> liking-what-you-do. I've always told him that the one thing that's missing from my job is a teaching component. Add that in, and I'll be in science heaven.

Be careful what you wish for, eh?

My boss is leaving for a few days, and has asked me to teach his classes while he's gone. Of course, I immediately said "yes!" Thinking: woohoo! Then it occurred to me to ask what he was teaching. "Piece of cake" he says. "Topic A, really basic stuff, and topic P, kind of related to topic A, and then a third topic, I don't really remember what it is. But you'll be great!" Sigh... I wish I had his confidence in me. I haven't really kept up with topics A and P over the last, uhm, 7 years. And I dread to think what the third topic might be.

Anyway, so I took a deep breath. How bad can it be? So I said (hoping that I sounded calm and collected): "Oh, ok, sounds good. These are undergrads, right?" My boss, casually: "No, this is the graduate class." Do you think he could see my heart sinking? Because I could feel it beating in my feet. I answered: "Oh, ok. No problem."

Excuse me for a sec.
Now there, that's much better.

I had a wee bit of imposter-syndrome when I graduated. But having to teach graduate-level classes on topics A, P, and who-the-hells-knows-what-else is bringing that to new heights. What if there are 5 students from professor So-and-so in that class? You see, that lab works on this topic, and they'll know far more than I do, and will be more up-to-date.

I have no one to blame for this but myself. I got *exactly* what I asked for. Part of me is also a bit excited. I have a book on topic A. It's 16 years old, but it covers the basics. I dug it up, and since I'm home with a sick little F1-2 today, I've been reading a bit, and trying to refresh my memory. There is not better way to learn something than having to teach it. I like learning, I want to learn about these topics. I just wish the students were a little less advanced, and I was a little more advanced. That'd be nice. I would feel a little more confident.

My boss has very graciously offered me his class notes, and will go over them with me this week. I have time to prepare. And I have time to get over this nervousness. I sure hope I do, otherwise my stuttering may not get me past the first 2 sentences.

Normally, I perform well under performance pressure, and hopefully that'll proof to be the case here too. Just having written this post makes me feel better. That's what blogging's all about for me. I'll let you know how it turned out. Or not. In which case I probably dug a hole for myself in the backyard, crawled in it, and closed it up above me.