My UPA 2011 presentationDecember was that time of year again – conference proposal notification season.

If you’re slightly neurotic like me, you submit proposals to conferences thinking, “What the heck? It’s worth a shot. It probably won’t get accepted, but at least I’ll feel good that I tried.”  Then you forget about it for a few months until you get an email notifying you of the status of your proposal. You open the email a little apprehensively, and perhaps you go through the same stages I go through…

1. Skepticism

Okay, brace yourself. You probably got rejected. Well, whatever happens, at least I tried.

 2. Surprise

What?! Accepted?! Is that right? Wait, let me read this again.

 3. Elation

I can’t believe it! They accepted it! Awesome! I feel really honored.

 4. Terror

Oh my God! They accepted it. I have to actually come up with a presentation now. When’s the conference? March?! What if I can’t come up with anything by then?

5. Self-Doubt

Why did I submit this proposal? Who do I think I am? I have to go up in front of all those people who really know what they’re doing. This is when they’ll finally find out that I’m a fraud. Well maybe there won’t be that many people attending anyway, because who would want to go to this topic over all the other choices? Wait, what if no one attends my session?!

6. Rationalization

Okay, calm down. Don’t panic. This is probably a normal reaction. A lot of people probably feel the same way when they get accepted. I have about as much experience as these other people. And they wouldn’t have accepted this proposal if they didn’t think it was a good topic. It beat out a lot of other proposals. I can do this. I give presentations all the time at work. And I’ve seen a lot of bad presentations at conferences. Surely I can do better than those.

7. Acceptance

Okay, I can do this. It may be difficult, but I’ll make it through. It may be scary, but it will be a good experience, and I’ll be a better person for it. Let me just send in my official acceptance before I lose my confidence and back out.

What comes next? – The stages of preparing a presentation for a conference, which include multiple iterations of fear, self-doubt, rationalization, determination, and satisfaction. Ultimately, the conference comes, you give a successful presentation, it’s a rewarding experience, and you realize that none of your fears actually came true.

By the time Fall rolls around again, you’ve forgotten all about the fear and doubt, and you submit more conference proposals, thinking, “What the heck? It’s worth a shot. It probably won’t get accepted, but at least I’ll feel good that I tried.”