So I had this anxiety dream last night. Now, I very rarely remember my dreams -- I would say I don't have them, except that scientists claim we all do. So when I remember enough to make an impression, it's significant.
Starts with walking up some stairs with other people -- the feeling is that I am going to a meeting, or a conference, or something like that -- an air of intellectual engagement, interest, no nervousness. The building is standard institutional Gothic.
Wind up in a large room filled with academic types. It turns out that this location is "NYU." (NOTE: I am not, nor have I ever been, associated with NYU in any way. Nor is anyone I know. I have never even been inside a building on its campus. This is pure symbolic.) So, there are a bunch of intellectual-looking academics -- dark-framed glasses, turtleneck sweaters, whatever my brain produced as the "NYU" crowd.
And there are also approximately 20 women in red dresses (different fabric and cut, though most of them satin, slinky, evening or party dresses). As I note this to the person sitting next to me, I realize in horror that I am wearing a red sleeveless satin dress. Egads! (NOTE: in real life, I never wear dresses. And certainly if I did it wouldn't be red, it's be black.) I look down at my legs and think, geez, I would have at least shaved if I'd known.
Then somehow the focus changes (my dreams are often shot like movies) and the camera zeros in on the main guy at the seminar table which has suddenly appeared in the room (who I suspect represents Leading Critic who I met once (and who was funny and pleasant) -- I saw an announcement for his latest book yesterday and wrote down the title to look for at the library next time I'm on campus). He says, "well, maybe you should just look at the entertainment industry." Snickers from all around the table. "You're just not right for us. This is not what we're looking for." I don't get a chance to defend my research, which is suddenly the topic of conversation -- nor to even explain that I was just there for the conference, not for the job interview.
Summary: Why is it that feeling like you belong in academia is so fricking difficult?