So, guys. Guys.
I think I just told my advisor that I’m a food blogger. Say what?
Yep, it slipped out right in the middle of our last check-in a couple of weeks ago. As if I was Peter Parker revealing my identity to Mary Jane. Or James Bond doing his big giveaway speech. Or Darth Vader unmasking for Luke. Professor sir <huuuuyyyh> I AM your fahhther.
The fact that I’ve finally broken the silence about my blogging alter-ego might not seem like a big deal, but oh, it most definitely is. On the list of Top Things That Are A Big Deal In My Semi-Significant Life, this one is right up there next to a) the discovery that Diagon Alley from Harry Potter is a phonetically deconstructed version of the word diagonally (Knockturn Alley = you guessed it, nocturnally!), and b) learning that strawberries are not actually berries, but bananas and avocados are (I KNOW, right? Mind blown!)
The reason this is such a big deal is because I am plagued by a chronic case of compartmentalization syndrome. I like to keep all the pieces of my jigsaw puzzle life in neat little boxes, connected but nice and separate, too. It’s kind of an issue. For instance, while I talk about a lot of personal stuff right here on this blog, there’s a crap ton of stuff you’ve probably never heard me mention, to the extent that you probably weren’t even aware that I wasn’t mentioning them in the first place.
Don’t take it personally–it’s just this thing with me that I’m still working to get over. Of course, when I found out in May that I’ll be hauling my sorry blogger butt over to the World Food Champs later this year and that I’ll be missing class for a week for it (which inevitably also means that I’m going to need to break the news sooner or later), it occurred to me that there’s really nothing quite like 4 years of keeping your alter-ego blogging identity a secret from your advisor to soothe your nerves.
I had this whole little speech written out in my head that I practiced for the 72 hours prior to our meeting. After a brief introduction to my summer and some good news about a publication of mine that will be appearing in the near future (yes, it’s finally happening! My advisor actually said, and I quote: “I couldn’t have said this before the good news, but…I would have been so pissed off if you hadn’t been accepted, because you worked your butt off to make that article perfec!t”), I rambled through my little monologue a la Virginia Woolf. I told him about how I had talked to a fellow grad student who does creative writing and how he knew that I love to bake and cook. Well recently (said I) my work had been recognized and I had been invited to participate in local competitions (his eyes got very wide here), sponsorships (“that’s so great”), and–the one thing that I’ve always been hesitant to talk about–blogging. I explained that it’s been a creative outlet and something that has really helped me hone my writing, but that I was still hesitant to talk about it within the department because I didn’t want it to be seen as detracting from my work (“understandable, completely understandable,” said he). But that it really was something about which I was passionate.
The other part I wanted to emphasize was that I work on social media, because it’s become a huge part of my life and perhaps something of a deviation from what most people perceive as traditional forms of “writing.” I explained that writing for different platforms has allowed me to hone my writing in other ways–to make my writing pithy.
(Note to self: never use big words whose definitions you don’t actually know in a conversation with your superior. I ran out 5 seconds after our conversation ended and Google’d “pithy definition” before letting out a huge sigh of relief.
Second note to self: “pithy” means forceful and short expression.)
As it turns out, life has a funny way of upending our expectations, because I was completely nonplussed by my advisor’s reaction, which was overwhelmingly positive. He was ecstatic to hear about my life outside of work, gratified to be let in on the secret (“I’m very glad that you shared this with me”), and flat-out excited to hear about my creative writing, which he views as an asset in the world of academic scholarship. I guess it just goes to show that sometimes our worst fears are really the only thing of which we ought to be afraid in the first place.
Lupin once put it, “What you fear most of all, is fear itself. Very wise.”
My advisor was not only okay with but happy to hear about my blogging. Or, as he put it in his infinite wisdom:
“Sometimes we forget it’s important to have a life, OUTSIDE of our work”
“The more strings in your bow, the better”
Thank you, Dumbledore.
Now that the cat’s finally out of the bag, my final reflection here is that I actually feel ten times better than I did while I was busy worrying and fretting and pulling my poor hair out about whether/when/how I should talk to my advisor about this huge chunk of my secret life. More and more these days, I’m slowly learning the value of doing what I should have done all along, and that’s tell the truth. I’m a huge worrywart, not only about what others will think of me, but about hurting anyone else’s feelings as well by sharing my thoughts with complete honesty. I guess that’s something to keep working on as the days carry on!
For the present, though, I’ll wrap up this post by sharing this stellar vegan recipe with all of you–because if there’s one thing that I can say with complete frankness on a food blog, it’s how much I love food! These Marinated Tempeh + Ube Tacos with Homemade Chipotle Sauce are fantastic for a throw-together kind of lunch or dinner, or even a potluck. The sweet and salty taste of the marinated tempeh balances perfectly with the deep sweetness of the ube (also known as “purple yam”), which is in turn balanced out by the spicy & sweet chipotle sauce. Talk about bliss! You can grab the recipe below
Have a lovely week (honestly!), folks!