You can’t play this game unless you are of a certain age.  Past 40, probably.  But if you’re there, let me ask you this: who have you turned into?

I’m not either of my parents, though I have certainly heard both of them speaking out of my mouth.  Of the two of them, I’m more like my father.  But apparently someone else was an even stronger influence:

I have become my dissertation director.

There are some obvious differences.  We’re from different parts of the country, and I’m about a foot taller, and we don’t work in the same area any more.

But in personality and attitude, we are the proverbial peas in a pod.  Bored by small talk.  Happy to discuss, for hours, nitpicking details of fundamental research topics like phonetics and manuscripts.  Highly detail-oriented in general.  Surprisingly goofy sense of humor under the serious exterior.   Generally frugal but willing to spend money where it counts; i.e., quality lasts longer, and travel is important.  Perceived by students as either terrifying or irrelevant, depending on temperament and interests; gradually appreciated by students who genuinely care about learning.  Not interested in being popular, with students or anyone else.  Tough as old boots (her, not me, alas).

I’m a bit surprised to discover that I’ve turned into her (probably lots of other people realized it long ago), but relieved that I’m my dissertation director and not my mother.

11 thoughts on “I’ve turned into . . .

    1. And one of the ways I have realized this is that I frequently find myself saying to my own trainees, “Well, you know, when I was in {mentor’s} lab, she always told me blah, blah, blah. And you know what? She was fucking right! So, blah, blah, blah.”

      1. And it reminded me of how she frequently said to me, “Well, you know, when I was in {mentor’s} lab, she always told me blah, blah, blah. And you know what? She was fucking right! So, blah, blah, blah.”

        (Sorry I broke this comment all up like that.)

  1. I’ll have to report back in a few years as well. Though I’ve already caught myself making jokes that are just as cheesy as my dad, in class. While the students don’t notice, I had the “Oh shit, I sound like dad!” moment. I often say things the say my mom does, but that doesn’t bother me much. We spend a lot of time together, it’s bound to happen.

  2. This is interesting because I don’t quite know WHO I am. While people who knew my mother remark on our physical resemblance, I’m not hearing them say that I’m like her in behaviour besides my penchant for taking on too much work. Neither am I my father, exactly, although I have applied his genius for managing others with a smile. Nor am I my supervisor, whose greatest gifts are charismatic and visionary work in teaching and administration.

    I’m going to think about this a while more but let me say that finding those similarities to your dissertation director have to be pretty pleasing – that sounds like an excellent professional model to work from in life!

    1. I am completely certain that she never has wasted time reading Regency romances, science fiction, mystery novels, or blogs. Another way we are different. But as I’m getting more like her, maybe I will spend less time on those things, too.

      1. Nobody should regret the time they spend reading Regencies, science fiction, mysteries or blogs! (You’ve pretty well hit on all of my favourite reading material with that list – uncanny!)

  3. I’m probably more like my mom than anyone else. For better and for worse! Our interests are different, and I would say that our strengths are different, but our weaknesses and flaws are very similar.

  4. I’ve always found this one tricky, since my mother died when I was quite young (I’m now 5+ years older than she ever was), which left me triangulating my own identity between two quite different (though equally loving and supportive, in their own ways) grandmothers. Throw in my father’s decidedly idealized memories of my mother (which is not to say she wasn’t a wonderful person, just, I’m sure — even from my limited memories — more human and complicated than he remembers), and things get really complex.

    Despite all that, I suspect that I am, in quite a few ways, quite like my mother, who in turn shared some similarities with both my father’s mother and her own mother (no surprise there). I look most like my paternal grandmother, especially in terms of body type (short and round; my mother and her mother were taller and naturally slim, to the point of my maternal grandmother being a bit annoying about how easy it supposedly was to eat moderately and stay thin — it was, for her; as far as I can tell, she actually ate more than the other grandmother, but weighed considerably less). The good news is that both sides of the family, regardless of body type, seem to be pretty long-lived and healthy. And all three women did a reasonably good job of balancing taking care of others and remaining true to themselves — a model I’d like to follow.

    I can also see similarities to my father and to the one grandfather I knew (and probably the other one as well, but, since he was my mother’s father and died before I was born, I’m doubly short of information about him). There are some pretty clear recurring themes that run through both the male and the female sides of the family, including strong intellects and a degree of conscientiousness sometimes bordering on perfectionism.

    My dissertation directors? Not at all, mostly because although there are two names on my dissertation, I didn’t really have dissertation directors (partly my fault/lack of maturity, mostly the fault of my department’s falling apart the year I passed generals and taking some time to put itself back together again). Lately, however, I’ve been thinking that I may occasionally channel my (male) 8th grade teacher, who expected a lot of students, and usually got it.

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