17 October 2008

Chocolate time again…

Posted by Jessica Ball

So I gave a talk in an informal seminar today – and now I feel terrible about it.

It was on some ongoing research that I’ve been doing with my undergrad advisor. We’ve been working on some volcanic rocks out in the High Plateaus of Utah, and arguing one particular scenario for their origins. This is the first time either of us has presented this work, and we thought that are arguments made sense, given the geologic setting and the characteristics of the rocks. The presentation was just a short one, twenty minutes with questions afterward, so it shouldn’t have been too big a deal. Unfortunately, once I got to our arguments, I found out that many of them weren’t so conclusive as we’d thought, and they got shot down.

How the hell did I get so far without someone noticing this? It could be because my advisor isn’t an expert in volcanology, and neither am I, and most of the volcanology I knew that pertained to our project, I taught myself. Apparently I didn’t learn it well enough.

I suppose I should be glad that I can weed out the shaky arguments in the work, but all I feel right now is incompetent. This is my first time presenting this kind of research in front of a group of experts in the field, and to have it dissected is tremendously disheartening. I wanted to present this particular research because I thought it would be interesting, and because I thought that my senior research didn’t really contain enough volcanology for a volcanology seminar. I realize that it still needs a lot of work, but I’m a first year MS student, for crying out loud. I know I’m not an expert and I know my work can always be improved, and I didn’t expect great praise for the presentation, but it felt like everyone was expecting me to be perfect, or to have all the experience that the previous student presenters had (and all of them had their MS already).

People are saying I did fine, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. And I know I’m constantly second-guessing myself and my abilities, and I shouldn’t do that so much, but it’s really hard to be confident in yourself when almost everyone in the room has more experience than you do. Okay, it wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t for a grade or a thesis or anything – I still hate feeling like an idiot.

This is also the last time that I do a presentation at this particular time of the month, seeing as my horomones make me a weepy nervous wreck in normal situations. Combining that with a presentation, which also makes me a nervous wreck, sucked. I’m going to go home and eat some chocolate.

This “life experience” thing needs to not happen when I’m already stressed out by life.