For me the moment came during my twentieth or twenty-fifth or maybe fifteenth lesson in Alexander technique. My RSI had almost gone, I was feeling happier but still so horribly anxious about finishing my PhD. After another conversation about the principles of Alexander technique my teacher remarked, “you know, you could do this.” I was quiet. What? I could be an Alexander technique teacher? But how absurd: you need three years of training in London! And it’s about bodies, not at all about the clear, rational, bodyless thought I still try to require of myself. My teacher continued the lesson without further comment. I still don’t know if his words really meant “you could be an Alexander technique teacher”. I do know that those words started an opening of what had become a prison. They gave me permission to see that I needn’t always be an academic. If I never finished my PhD, I would find other passions that engaged me as much. Perhaps they’d even make me happier. It wasn’t until my teacher said those words that the thought even occurred to me: I can do otherwise.

I didn’t quit. Quite the opposite. Knowing that I could quit gave me the strength to finish my PhD without panicking, without that utter fear of failure you get if it’s the only thing you think you can do. Yesterday I was given a permanent job at the university. I can be an academic for all my life if I want to. Perhaps I will be. Or perhaps, quite possibly, I’ll decide to do something different at some point. That openness makes me happy.

6 thoughts on “window

  1. Matt

    Jill, how your voice has changed in 2 years!

  2. Joanna

    I have heard of Alexander Techniques from my Buteyko Breathing Lesson…:)

    Why don’t you try Yoga?

    Oh, I think Buteyko Breathing Technique will help you to reduce your stress, strengthen your immune system, cure Asthma, healing related breathing problems etc. I learnt it and it helps and it is really powerful.

    Check out this site:

    This is the site dedicated to Asia area but there’re some specialists over in Europe. 🙂

  3. Joanna

    Oh I have heard of Alexander Technique in my Buteyko Breathing Technique Lesson…

    Why don’t you try Yoga?

    Or Buteyko Breathing Technique – It helps to reduce stress, healing breathing related problem, cure Asthma, Insomina and many more diseases… I believe it could help your RSI as well.

    You can check that out with the practitioner over Europe or visit that site for more information 🙂

  4. real icon

    Still no such moment for me … just the “utter fear of failure” you mentioned, worsened by the fact that I am not even sure that being an academic actually *is* something I *can* do (with my dissertation feeling like a complete failure) … But oh, how I’d LOVE to do it. To be it. To live an academic life. I feel so happy for you and for my friend Nikola getting permanent or tenured positions. And so desperate about my own inabilities …

  5. Jill

    I’ve tried yoga, and I like it, especially if the teacher is good. Buteyko breathing? Sounds interesting, but I doubt there are classes in little Bergen… And you know, I don’t have problems with RSI anymore anyway. Or rather, I do, I feel it coming, but it’s like an alarm warning me to stop what I’m doing, think differently, don’t be scared, relax, whatever it is is probably not really that important. And for the last couple of years that has been enough to stop myself doing whatever I was doing that hurt me.

    Real Icon, you’ll be OK! I mean, I don’t know you and I haven’t read your dissertation (and your blogs in German and I can’t read German) but you know, EVERYONE thinks their dissertation’s a complete failure! Even the people who act the most selfconfident doubt themselves often, I’m sure of it – a few have admitted it too me and the others, well, I just think they do. Start realising that and the world is less scary. Not NOT scary, but less scary 🙂

  6. Maaike

    Hi Jill,

    Great to read about another Alexander Technique pupil. I’ve been taking lessons for 3 years now, and recognise the feeling. It’s true, you don’t always have to be academic, you could be creative, or careless, as long as it’s you 🙂

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