Reacquiring control

[cue soundtrack: “Timewarp” – Rocky Horror Picture Show]

Through most of my life, I have usually focused on being in control rather than controlling. I can be in control of myself and a few other things that are within my direct influence. I know there is a lot I can’t control. I know that trying to control everything around me is futile, and that worrying about not being able to control things that I can’t is similarly wasted effort. Sometimes when things get busy it is difficult to keep control over those things that I can and I end up feeling like I should be able to control the things that I can’t. This usually means that I don’t stay in control of the things that I can and all those good habits start to slip.

I feel like I am starting to regain that stance, posture, something of being in control. Maybe it’s because the sun is coming back and I’m finding it easier to get up in the morning. I even got to the gym and did a weights workout before coming to work this morning. That would be unheard of a couple of weeks ago. The novelty of a new workout helps, but the morning light does as well. I still wouldn’t class myself as a morning person, and getting out to do those things before I’m really awake helps at one level. Something I have come to appreciate about pole* is that it’s so much about being in control of my body and using slow strength where running is about speed and endurance. That’s a nice balance. Both are about control in different ways.

I think it is also getting to close to the end of my fieldwork activities. I am one segment of data generation away from finishing it, and I will get that done within the next fortnight. Re-establishing my workday routine is also about control and getting myself back into the good study habits that I had before fieldwork madness started.

Fieldwork can mess with your routines. I think I already knew that, but this last year has been a valuable reminder. Even in experimental or lab work (which seem like nice controlled, contained research environments) there are a host of factors that could happen that affect anticipated timetables. Multiply that exponentially for ‘in the wild’ real-world fieldwork like my not-so-little project. There are a host of large and small things that are beyond your control because you are relying on other people. In the case of my fieldwork, this included a whole lot of other people with their own concerns and routines. When you are asking someone to do something for you, you have to work in with them regardless of how interested they are. Some people – and in ‘people’ here I am including the groups of people that were my fieldwork sites – are able to be more flexible but it is not something you can expect. If it works best to be there at 8am, then you get yourself up way earlier than your usual routine and you get there at 8am. Of course this knocks out a lot of other structures in your own day but at some points in research, doing what you need to for fieldwork is the priority and everything else becomes secondary to that. Or you choose a different research focus.

Fieldwork is not tidy and controlled. With the conclusion of this bit of my project I will regain more control over my day-to-day routines with fewer competing demands that I have to accommodate. I’m sure with more practice I will get better at keeping more of my routines while doing fieldwork and have slightly less intense White Rabbit Moments, and I would not have traded the amazing experiences and data I have created with the amazing people who have collaborated with me on this. I am slightly awestruck with what I have achieved, and yes I will take some time to celebrate that.

PhD Game Progress:

  • A whole lotta XP, and I think close to levelling up again.
  • “Getting Back On The Horse” Achievement Badge for Reinstating Routines


*Yes, that’s pole as in dancing. Boy-type persons do it too.

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