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MoJingly

Venting Thread- Vent about anything.

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Hello All! I'm new here. I'll jump in in a meaningful way, I promise. I just have to get this off my chest. As background: I'm an HDFS master's student at Kent State. I am also a professional lactation counselor. I'm a mom to 4 kids and we relocated 1000 miles so I could attend this program. I'm also a graduate assistant in my program. 

 

I'm having a crisis of interest just one semester into my program. What I intended to study is proving to be a challenge. There just isn't any good research, and lots of derision. I feel unfocused, which I'm being told is how I should be feeling right now, but for me this is anxiety causing, not freeing. I did a presentation in one class this week that was a total charlie foxtrot. The information was totally irrelevant and way above the heads of the majority of undergrads subjected to my presentation. I reduced the info to a broad overview of my topic (early attachment, specifically the magical hour of skin to skin contact) but got nailed in grading because of it. I got a B, which isn't any serious issue, but my professor was "disappointed" and "worried" and wants to meet to go over "appropriate graduate level presentations", as if that one presentation, on the last day of class, in a room that was about 80 degrees, presented to a group of individuals who were more concerned about whether they would get to go home early, is representative of my grasp of the topic. Add that this professor, in my opinion, has been at this too long and spent half the class period (I was the first of 4 30-minute long presentations) trying not to fall asleep herself, and I'm struggling to process and formulate a plan. I don't need help on graduate presentations. I need a ding-dang focus! This professor is my advisor, who is also my GA supervisor. This is blurring of roles is really affecting our many relationships. She's friendly and nice, but seems to be a bit "done" with academia. She's older and probably considering retirement. If she isn't she probably should be. I struggle to interact with the undergrads. My oldest child is just a few years younger than some of them. My presentation was excellent. It really was, but she says it wasn't "meaty" enough. It was plenty informative to undergrads. I had 2 students stop after class to ask me more about my topic. General interest! Isn't that the point of graduate presentations of a topic? I related it to the class, didn't bother to go over all of the theory and stuff the professor had ALREADY done. But I got dinged on the grade. Bleh. I need a good focus. I need a thesis/project topic I can live with, that will be interesting to students who are not professionals in the field of infant feeding, that won't limit future research to such a limited topic, but that meets the "you should already sound like an expert" guidelines of this professor. I'll be working with her for 2 more years. I need to find happy medium. 

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There is this jerk in my friend group.   And we've been pretty civil recently, but then apparently I did something to set him off and he's been an ass to me ever since.  I tried to confront him about it, and give him reasons he shouldn't be an ass, and of course he blames me for his behavior.

Having him around in general is frustrating.   I try to be nice to him because he is a central member of our group.  Ive even tried to make him my friend and tell him his good qualities.   But he grates on my nerves and doesn't get the hint when he's gone too far. So I tell him, and he blames me.   And this happens over and over again.  I realized just how much I dislike him when he wasn't at an event and I had a much better time not having to psych myself up to handle his jabs.   I am a sweet person,  but I'm not a sweet person when he is around and I hate it.

  I feel so separated from this group of friends right now, and he makes it 100 times worse.  I want him to go away, but that means leaving this friend group.  But there isn't anything else I can do.  I've tried ignoring him, but he's always around. I've tried being nice, and he takes it the wrong way.   I don’t know what else to do.   I guess it's time to move on anyways. 

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When you think a student is going to do pretty well on a paper, but they completely miss part of the directions and then give their opinions that aren't based in any fact whatsoever 

:-( Sad stuff.

Also, what do students have against a conclusion paragraph? Their papers just end abruptly with no warning. It's like stepping off the edge of a cliff (maybe not a very tall one though).

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On 12/14/2015 at 0:14 PM, gingin6789 said:

Also, what do students have against a conclusion paragraph? Their papers just end abruptly with no warning. It's like stepping off the edge of a cliff (maybe not a very tall one though).

I just end every paper with QED :P

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I've lost track of the number of break downs I've had this semester.  Here I was, thinking I could do well in these courses and now I'm facing academic probation at best after my first semester.  I'm honestly afraid that I'm going to be kicked out because of my mediocre academic performance.  But with combined undergraduate/graduate courses that give double the work to the graduate students, were they even thinking I could succeed in that environment?  I guess not...

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While it's a good thing sleepless nights don't matter much now that the semester is over, sleepless nights still suck. I'm sick of this.

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My GPA is good (depending on how it's calculated). My GRE scores could be better, but I'm not applying to a PhD program yet.  My letters of rec are (hopefully) amazing. My personal statement is great (though I'm beginning to nitpick and hate it). On paper, I think I'm an ok candidate. I know I can do the work if given a chance.

The only problem (and why I'm so stressed all of the time and applying to so many colleges) is that I'm a plus-sized minority female.

It's basically one of the worst trifectas ever. I'm fat, so that must mean I'm lazy, stupid and undisciplined. I'm Black, so I'm assumed to be on welfare, violent, lazy (again), and uneducated. And I'm a woman, so my worth is obviously based in my appearance, and I'm subservient. I haven't been more annoyed. Most of the time I feel like I'm already rejected, even though I haven't even finished submitting my applications. I have average sized friends who are only going to apply to social work programs because they don't want to even attempt the GRE. I spent two years going to five different colleges at once because of lack of classes & overpopulation--if you ask me, that's far from lazy. I could have graduated last spring, but I stayed because I wanted to double major. And yet the thing that defines me the most to everyone else is that I'm fat, and all of the microaggressions that go with it.  Maybe I should have taken the "easy way" and applied for social work programs--avoided the GRE route entirely. Admittedly, I was stupid in the sense that I elected to take the GRE during the semester than during the summer. Next time, that won't happen.

Most of my colleges are out of state and will do phone or skype interviews, which is both good and bad. I still don't know which is worse: me somehow finding the money to fly out there and have them see me (so they can later reject me), or losing that personal touch on a skype/phone interview.

I don't know. All I can do is the best I can do. I specialize in kicking myself when I'm down and making something over nothing. I just hope that the people who interview me (if I'm even interviewed at all) will look past that and see what I'm able to do.

 

Speaking of which, how are people staying so positive throughout this whole application process? I don't want to get my hopes up and say I'll get accepted somewhere (just in case I don't get in), but I also don't want negative karma. I wanted to apply to another school and my professor was like "Am I done? Don't bother me again!" I know she was joking, but I don't want to ask too much from them (especially since I applied to 15 colleges). I'm in panic mode because I go to state school that's pretty much unknown unless you live in my area. Which is bad, because I don't have a plan B--I'm going to go to grad school.

When I first started applying, I had a list of favorites and some I thought were ~~safety~~. That idea has pretty much died. All of the programs I've applied to are good school, and I would fit in so well. None of them are safeties anymore--I could be rejected from all of them based on my resume, or my GRE, or my grades, just anything.

 

Despite all of this, I'm lucky. I don't have a significant other. I don't have children. I don't have best friends or people who can hold me back here and prevent me from moving across the country. My mom is highly supportive of me, and she will move with me wherever I go. We and our dogs are the only family we've got. We do lack money, but I've been preparing myself to be in debt for the rest of my life. I'm lucky that I have a good job (at least until I lose it when I graduate. Work-study.) and I'm able to apply to so many colleges. I just hope someone takes a chance on me so I can make whatever school I go to proud.

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@highborn you ask how do others stay so positive during the application season. While I cannot speak for others, I can speak for myself and say that my self-worth is not tied to whether or not I get into a program. Sure it would be amazing (and absolutely what my heart is set on) but I've had to learn from the school of hard life that things don't happen the way we want them to sometimes, and it's not a direct attack/reflection on me. I may not get in anywhere because I'm not good enough, or I may not get in because of funding issues, because of departmental politics, because the advisor I really want to work with was ill on the day of decisions and couldn't advocate for me, or maybe there was an earthquake and my application got lost....you see it doesn't actually reflect on me. Sure if I don't get in anywhere I'll be sad, and it will be tough (my boyfriend is in the US, I am not, this application season was meant to finally put our 5 year long distance trans-atlantic relationship in the same country at least) but other opportunities will come along. A plan B always helps!

One thing that comes across in your post is that you're very self-sabotaging (it may be because this is the vent thread!). For one, your size is irrelevant to adcoms. They won't know whether you're fat, thin, tall, short, whether you have blue hair, 5 million tattoos and piercings or anything unless you've specifically told them. From what you've said, it seems like you're a hard worker and dedicated, maybe finding a way to relieve the stress you put yourself under regarding other people's perceptions would help you feel more comfortable in this application season (and beyond!). 

I wish you luck with your applications! 

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Now for a vent of my own. Why oh why oh why did I have to get the flu right now? I have exams in January (50%, 60% and 100% of my module grades) and they're at about the same time I expect to be hearing back from my applications and I just want someone to look after me and make me limitless cups of tea and magically absorb all this information I need into my head. Oh, and if someone could cancel Christmas that would be great.

 

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@piglet33 "you're very self-sabotaging" true. I put a lot of value and worth into my education because again, I'm fat and black. When you're me, society says you're an idiot who can't do anything. I love school, I love education in general, so it's just hard. I'm trying to disassociate my competence for grad school from this application process but I'm having trouble doing so--it's one thing if you are rejected from three schools, but it's another if you're rejected from 15. I think I'd still apply if I didn't get in next year, but it would hurt. I'm also terrified of working a job I hate & could have been in without a college education. I have a friend who is currently making at least half of my hourly wage more than I am, and she hasn't gone to college at all so she's debt free. 

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Those are legitimate fears! I'm a thin white lady who presents as straight and people still say bad things about my intellectual competence. High school was particularly bad for that, because it was a very good school where everyone fetishized math skill; I was decidedly below average at math. I had great language skills, though, so I ended up getting into and deciding to attend a pretty cool university. One of my acquaintances asked me one day in May where I was going. I said the school's name. "You? But YOU'RE STUPID." I got a little nastiness from my school counselor, too ("YOU broke LOW NUMBER on the SAT? Who'd have thought!"), although we got along fine after she finally got to know me a little bit. My senior yearbook is full of people "lightheartedly" joking about how they had spent four years thinking I was an idiot, but now they guessed that wasn't totally true after all! 

But I don't need any sympathy! That was seven years ago now, and my life has been great since then. I was also really lucky, because after I moved out of the weirdly math-and-science-centric universe there, I have ended up with a persona that is almost always read as "smart." I can't imagine how much it would suck to have my worth so strongly tied to my inherent characteristics, since even the more mild stuff I have to put up with as a woman who displays no other obvious reasons to take her less seriously gets on my last nerve.

So, good luck! We need a lot more education professionals who don't pull nonsense like my school counselor! You sound like a thoughtful person, so I hope you get into a school you'll love. Because education is a field that aims to make a positive difference in the lives of this country's children, I would hope that at least one (and hopefully most) of your programs views your past experiences as a qualification. As I'm sure you know better than I do, that doesn't always happen, but applying to so many schools was probably a wise strategy, and I hope you get into a bunch of them.

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After a pretty bad delay yesterday I get to my parent's house to find out the airline lost both of my bags. And the most academic response was: "But I have books my committee members let me borrow in there." Followed by "Well at least my advisor's book was in my carry on."

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So I might catch some flack for this but to Highborn who said...

On 12/19/2015 at 6:03 AM, highborn said:

The only problem (and why I'm so stressed all of the time and applying to so many colleges) is that I'm a plus-sized minority female.

It's basically one of the worst trifectas ever. I'm fat, so that must mean I'm lazy, stupid and undisciplined. I'm Black, so I'm assumed to be on welfare, violent, lazy (again), and uneducated. And I'm a woman, so my worth is obviously based in my appearance, and I'm subservient. I haven't been more annoyed. Most of the time I feel like I'm already rejected, even though I haven't even finished submitting my applications. 

 

I am considered quite "pretty" by current american standards. I am in shape, well endowed in the chesty region, long flowy hair, nice facial features... blah blah blah. (Although I certainly have my "I feel ugly" days). I have blatantly been told by my male peers that the only reason I have done well is because my professors want to do me. I was actually word for word told that I looked like a "snow bunny"  (look it up if you don't know) by one of my prominent professors. I was fully clothed. It was 35 degrees outside. I was so dumbfounded that I didn't even know how to respond. I have had multiple professors and peers stare at my chest while I was speaking (And no... I wasn't dressed provocatively)  So many other instances, I could go on.

I'm at the other end of the spectrum, I feel as though no one takes me seriously because they think I am some super ditzy trophy woman, and when I say that I'm applying for a PhD to study alpha particle thermochronology, they look at me like I'm nuts. 

You just have to believe that what you do is important, and passionately stand behind your goals. 

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I am so tired of people trying to get my PERSONAL motivation behind my interest in clinical psychology or my particular interest in depression. There is NO personal motivation, there is only some academic curiosity. Why did I research these? The opportunity presented itself and I took it. That's it. END OF THE STORY. Let alone that it is the state of truth that I have no ulterior motive other than pure academic interest. Even if I do, it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. It is just rude, trying to pull personal pieces from me that are not even in me. Why can't people just mind their own business and deal with the fact that not all clinical psychology academics have some convoluted (or even messed-up) personal stories. 

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Ever since I went back to University, I've completely lost my appreciation for Christmas. For the past 3 or 4 years (since late undergrad), I didn't get a Christmas break. I usually took part of the day off on Christmas Day but the rest of my time has been spent working on things. On New Years Eve I typically am working on a paper until 3am New Years Day and pop out of my room for 5 minutes around midnight, only to go back and work on the paper again. Then, after I get back to school, I feel so guilty that I didn't get even more work done, that I was only working 6-10 hour days over the Christmas break instead of 12-14 hour days every day. This year looks to be no different. I see everybody enjoying the holiday season around me and it just seems to be so surreal, like my reality is getting this work done and the entire Christmas and New Years break is some kind of fantasy world that I wish I could be a part of but can't, because I don't have time.

 

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@highborn brings up a valid social problem in academia centering on race, gender,  and weight. I'm a grad student in sociology, and these are among the intersectional issues we explore... Race, gender, and fatness are still major hurdles in academia, no question. I'm glad @highborn brought these issues to light. Highborn opened up an important conversation, here. Does that mean thin, white women don't face challenges? Of course not. Other grad cafe users who are thin, white, and female have felt safe in opening up about these very real struggles thanks to Highborn's post. 

Highborn was bringing up very real, challenging issues for her that people (NOT forum users here) tend to shut down because they think racism, sexism, and fatphobia are a thing of the past. 

And here's my story. Despite my nearly perfect academic GPA in undergrad and grad school, the fact remains that I'm still a high school dropout! Has that been a hurdle in academia? Absolutely! However, I also acknowledge my thin, white appearance grants me certain advantages, while my gender presents a hurdle!! I pass as the ideal image of an academic.  because I'm a woman, students do treat me quite differently than my male colleagues, sometimes in very negative ways. Notice how, while I acknowledge these advantages, my struggle as a dropout and woman is not invalidated! So it's ok to recognize our advantages. 

So, the stories of thin white women in this thread do not invalidate highborn's struggle as a fat woman of  color. Speaking bluntly, I am more advantaged being white and thin. I can comfortably acknowledge that because having advantages is important to recognize! And, bonus, acknowledging that doesn't undo struggles I've faced either

Tl;dr, all of our intersectional stories are valid and important, and I'm SO glad we are talking about this! 

PS, I really hope this post comes across as *helpful* and not pompous or know-it-all-ish. I'm just hoping to help us understand each other, but my post may not make much sense because I'm running on caffeine now *rolls around thread*

Edited by gingin6789
Clarity

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I agree ^^^^

And I hope that no one thought that I was attempting to invalidate highborn... I was just simply agreeing that people will judge you for many things that are not fair, whether it be weight, appearance, race, gender. All of these things are still prevalent, even if people pretend they are not. 

I feel as though I am at an advantage, in that people (particularly male) will give me certain opportunities and such due to my appearance, but at the same time they will assume that I am unintelligent and dismiss any advances that I make out of my own hard work and determination. 

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21 minutes ago, sjoh197 said:

I agree ^^^^

And I hope that no one thought that I was attempting to invalidate highborn... I was just simply agreeing that people will judge you for many things that are not fair, whether it be weight, appearance, race, gender. All of these things are still prevalent, even if people pretend they are not. 

I feel as though I am at an advantage, in that people (particularly male) will give me certain opportunities and such due to my appearance, but at the same time they will assume that I am unintelligent and dismiss any advances that I make out of my own hard work and determination. 

Exactly! Even in fields like sociology that explicitly study inequality, inequalities like the kinds you mentioned are still an issue. 

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14 hours ago, knp said:

A theme coalesces! (Probably a holiday-appropriate one, too.) The things people say:

9ef86c8ae9c0b5678450826cb5cff758.jpg

Oh, how accurate. Someone brought up the fact that I was applying to grad programs at lunch at work today, and suddenly like five people have to chime in: "Ah, grad school, the thing I wish I had never done" "It's a ponzi scheme, stay away" "I just dropped out, got sick of it" "I even finished, but hated every second after the first semester" "Why would you even waste the money applying, just don't," the same people who have been making snide comments about my decision over the past couple of moths. Like, you know, okay. I get it. Grad school can have it's bad times, academia can be terrible, application fees suck, etc., etc., etc. But, you know, guess what: I've done plenty of research and reading. I know what's coming, really. And here I still am. Why? Because I legitimately love research, and teaching, and was genuinely at home (albeit tiredly) when working on my thesis and still think there's lots of important work to be done there. I've taken a year off of school, with the intention that if I found out I loved doing something else better, I would keep doing that instead. And you know what: never a day goes by that I don't wish I studying, reading, writing, preparing for a conference, discussing, and juggling ten projects, even as stressful as I full-well know all that can be. I'm not the "oh well, I just didn't know what I wanted to do, and don't want to do 'real' work for another 5 years, so hey! grad school!" applicant. But nor am I the "I think it's going to be just like undergrad, and I loved undergrad, so....!" person. Despite being driven to grad school by the fact that I loved what I was doing as an undergrad (though most of what I loved was the reading groups and conferences I was a part of with faculty/graduates), I recognize that this is going to be a huge change, from student to junior-junior professional scholar. I know that there's lots of politicking and managing and career-building that's going to go along with this. I know it's not some idealized life of the mind. But still I want it.

And you know what: maybe they're all right. Maybe I'll end up hating it. Maybe I'll regret it, and feel extra like an idiot for being so adamant about really wanting it. I should probably be careful about seeing myself as some sort of exception to what is increasingly seeming like the rule of "ugh, what a waste of 5-7 years." But, it's a little unfair to criticize someone for just wanting the same opportunity, the same experience you were given, before that person has their own chance to figure it out. As one of my profs told me as I was fretting to her about my decision, offering one of the few lights in this dim experience of advice-seeking: at the end of the day, TT job or no TT job, it's an experience, and one that can be great in many ways and lame in many ways [just like any other, as I'm finding out in having taken another job for my gap year], and if you can't see yourself not even trying, then do it. (It's just hard to remember that when I continue to be the butt of everyone at work's cynical jokes about their own past naivety....)

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@sjoh197 Even though we're lucky to live in a country that's more progressive than other countries, we do still have a long way to go. Like women in general are still considered sex objects in many, if not all, aspects of life. And of course we do use that to our advantage sometimes (free drinks, yay! not that I've ever gotten one, hahah.) I would assume that if you're too pretty, you basically become Elle Woods and everything you do is diminished in the eyes of others--"she only got a PhD because she's hooking up with her professors" or "she's only here because of *blah blah blah*" I think eventually that this would become intrinsic as well-"Did I really earn that A, or was it just handed to me?" it could seriously decrease self-worth. I'm really sorry that that's been happening to you. I think you're in a position too where you can't really do anything about it, or at least it's scary to do something about it because it's people who are higher than you. Us girls have to stick together.

@knp I think that post is for me, thank you!

@gingin6789 Thank you!!

A lot of the schools I applied to have this point of stressing diversity. They kind of have to--eventually, minorities will be over 50% of the population in America. I'm going into education, so we have to work on is managing our prejudices and working with diverse populations. A large part of the job is working with children and families who have completely different cultures, religions, goals, expectations, appearances, ect. than I do. Despite this, a vast majority of school psychologists (over 92% according to studies done in 2010) are white. I think that this is just how society is set up: minorities play in sports teams, while white older men coach/own them. My GRE scores are really bad if you compare them to the average of men and of Caucasian people- but if you compare them to white test takers and women, they're good. I think it's an example of how equity rather than equality needs to be incorporated into the grad system.

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23 minutes ago, highborn said:

 

@gingin6789 Thank you!!

A lot of the schools I applied to have this point of stressing diversity. They kind of have to--eventually, minorities will be over 50% of the population in America. I'm going into education, so we have to work on is managing our prejudices and working with diverse populations. A large part of the job is working with children and families who have completely different cultures, religions, goals, expectations, appearances, ect. than I do. Despite this, a vast majority of school psychologists (over 92% according to studies done in 2010) are white. I think that this is just how society is set up: minorities play in sports teams, while white older men coach/own them. My GRE scores are really bad if you compare them to the average of men and of Caucasian people- but if you compare them to white test takers and women, they're good. I think it's an example of how equity rather than equality needs to be incorporated into the grad system.

Like you said, universities are taking steps to improve diversity, which is great! Good first step: I look forward to how they reach further to emphasize equity as  a step forward from equality.

Also, kinda on a related note, kinda on a semi-vent note, I'm re-reading my post from earlier, and I don't like my tone. Mehhh. I hope it came across how it was supposed to come across, and if I misinterpreted anything anyone said, I apologize! I know everyone here is likely in a similar place as me though ... writing constantly to the point where you question whether the sentences you're typing are coherent at all ... 

I hope everyone's winter break is off to a good start, and that we all get a couple days (or hours) off! 

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6 hours ago, gingin6789 said:

Like you said, universities are taking steps to improve diversity, which is great! Good first step: I look forward to how they reach further to emphasize equity as  a step forward from equality.

Also, kinda on a related note, kinda on a semi-vent note, I'm re-reading my post from earlier, and I don't like my tone. Mehhh. I hope it came across how it was supposed to come across, and if I misinterpreted anything anyone said, I apologize! I know everyone here is likely in a similar place as me though ... writing constantly to the point where you question whether the sentences you're typing are coherent at all ... 

I hope everyone's winter break is off to a good start, and that we all get a couple days (or hours) off! 

I took your tone as "this is the kind of research we do in my field and I'm getting excited letting you know about it" which is an awesome tone. This probably happens a lot in sociology, when topics like these are mentioned. Some people's research passions just so happen to be related to "hot topics". The same thing happens to me when people start talking about language, but they usually state a really popular misconception and I have a hard time being patient. Anyways, what I'm saying is that often times in the social sciences the stuff we are passionate about are topics of every day conversation, so it's totally understandable to offer an academic perspective. 

That reminds me that one of my happiest moments was when someone ASKED me "is there any such thing as a difficult language?" instead of assuming that there is. I got so excited I nearly dropped my tea. 

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3 hours ago, vonham said:

I took your tone as "this is the kind of research we do in my field and I'm getting excited letting you know about it" which is an awesome tone. This probably happens a lot in sociology, when topics like these are mentioned. Some people's research passions just so happen to be related to "hot topics". The same thing happens to me when people start talking about language, but they usually state a really popular misconception and I have a hard time being patient. Anyways, what I'm saying is that often times in the social sciences the stuff we are passionate about are topics of every day conversation, so it's totally understandable to offer an academic perspective. 

That reminds me that one of my happiest moments was when someone ASKED me "is there any such thing as a difficult language?" instead of assuming that there is. I got so excited I nearly dropped my tea. 

All of this!!! I got so excited when this thread broached such important sociological issues in academia. Plus, I love sociology and talking about sociological topics, but I love teaching / helping others to get more background on these topics even more! I think that's why I'm overly cautious about my tone; when I'm trying to help provide more background on sociological issues, I never want anyone to feel excluded/spoken over. 

I had something similar happen with one of my students! A very soft-spoken athlete student came to my office hours to make up a lab, and he asked me what my research interests were in sociology and *why* I was interested in those areas... I just started glowing and we had a wonderful discussion about it! So exciting! 

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