From Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation,
Three things that no one has ever said about me:
You make it look so easy.
You are very mysterious.
You need to take yourself more seriously.
In 2003, when I was at Duke, the school released a study about the experience of women at all levels of the institution. One undergraduate woman described the suffocating expectation of effortless perfection. The pressure to make it look so easy.
I laughed to myself about that term, as the exact opposite of my life—always, but especially in that year. Even at my peak moments, I am a bundle of nervous energy: untucked, untamed, untethered. Effortful imperfection.
Think of how uncomfortable it is to visit a perfect home. You don’t want get a dirty footprint on the white carpet or spill food on the pristine tablecloth. When you are in my classroom or office or home, I hope you will join me in being your imperfect self.
Untamed hair is an occupational hazard: “I wouldn’t mind more of those stereotypical professor days, where you just have stacks of paper, and code on your screen, and you haven’t brushed your hair….” https://www.chronicle.com/article/Meet-the-Professor-Who-s/243179/.
Smooth hair is overrated.
My office in particular is still a perfect mess. But I think it scares students that I may lose their assignments or stuff 🙂