I was totally losing it last night – bursting into tears from stress, head pounding and feeling sick.  My husband put me to bed early and then I called in sick today.

This morning, over breakfast, he finally got a couple of really good points through my stubborn, thick skull.

First, this seminar is a WORKING SESSION, not a dissertation defense.  They don’t expect it to be done.
Second, everyone is human and is good about forgiving others for their humanness, especially when you are upfront about it.

So, revised plan:
– I am still working on a presentation/poster (basically it will all be the same thing).  My plan is to do what I can between now and then, but not kill myself.
– I will start my presentation by explaining that life has intervened in the last few months and set my progress back, but that any help or pointers would still be gratefully accepted.
– Rather than trying to ANSWER the questions I had in my earlier post (and a million others), I will put them into the presentation as areas in which I need guidance.

I have 13 good slides so far, with the intention of adding a few more (no more than 20 total) before I am done.  I have a couple of articles I want to reread (one specifically on my methodology) before I formulate all my questions.  And I want to make my poor, put-upon writing group look at it.  If I have to print the poster/presentation out Friday morning in the hotel business center on the way to the first session, that isn’t bad. 

And mostly, I will not stress about this any more.  I will do what I can, I will admit to my failings and I will try to leave everyone with the impression that I am an honest, sincere person with a great deal of potential.  Worst case is that they clarify their language for how far along people should be next year.  I will be prepared to the extent I can prepare well and cognizant of the areas that need work so that I can ask for help.

I really think that perfectionism is a disease, rampant among academics and wannabe’s like me.  I see it in adviser’s neurotic corrections/changes to the paper (we had so many changes tracked in that paper that we broke Word; seriously.), I see it in my reaction to this whole situation, and I see it in the faculty and students I regularly interact with. 

It’s not healthy.  Not for any of us.