The Anxious Archaeologist

Horses were one of the highlights of working at our site!

Me and just a few of the amazing people that helped make this experience great no matter what happened.

My experience at the FMIA field school has been full of surprises; meeting wonderful new people, making new friends, and discovering a new way to do archaeology in the Willamette Valley. One surprise that was not as welcome however, was the realization of how much anxiety living at the project would cause me.
In the field of Archaeology, traveling for work is expected as a fact of life. For someone with anxiety, however, this aspect of the job has always worried me. I have tried to deal with my anxiety in the past, but as is common with anxiety, it can be triggered randomly and severely in the most unexpected ways. For me, it was having to live at camp. Fortunately, I was able to bond with the team during the first week, and after attempting to deal with the issue and failing, the staff was kind enough to accommodate me by letting me commute from home to mitigate my now near constant state of anxiety. Though this condition can make individuals, myself included, feel extremely isolated, the FMIA crew has done everything possible to make me feel understood, included and supported and I will be forever grateful.
As I continue into the field of archaeology with this issue, I plan to seek counseling to learn how to control and limit my anxiety, and be able to travel on my own for work in the future. But for now, I will have to make archaeology work for me. This may mean finding work within an hour commute of my town and family, or working more office based jobs, or even putting my dream of archaeology on hold to deal with my anxiety properly. As daunting as this future is, what I want to communicate through this story is that people with anxiety are not alone; in the field of archaeology, and in the world in general. Take care of yourself, and make the world work for you if you have too, and know that it’s alright to take a break to care for yourself. And, always remember to be grateful to those who help you make this possible (Thank you FMIA camp fam!).
Speaking of not being alone, it helped me to know that making the field of archaeology, and academia in general, more accepting of different people is an effort being made from many different angles. Opening up the field to people dealing with everything from anxiety and depression, to more serious mental and physical disabilities, is a relatively new cry being taken up by many social groups, individual archaeologists, and universities around the world. For more testimonies, and examples of archaeologists dealing with anxiety and mental health see: (Digging While Depressed, Mental Health in Archaeology, Excavation) for a helpful guides on helping people with mental health issues in field work see: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/Number5_Teaching_and_Learning_Guide_Inclusive_Accessible_Archaeology.pdf
https://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/Disabilitypaper.pdf

About Me

Hello! My name is Cessna Westra and I am very excited to be a part of FMIA 2019. I just recently graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma Washington, and I am hoping to start a career in government archaeology here in the Willamette Valley. I have lived in Eugene, Oregon my whole life and have come to love this place and everything about it. I am here hoping to learn how to work with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and how to improve the systems within US government archaeology, so that they can help manage tribal belongings in a manner approved of and preferred by the Grand Ronde.
Outside of the professional world, I enjoys being with friends and family as the primary joy in my life. I am also a new dog owner and am slowly realizing just how much dogs are really just small furry humans. I am eternally in love with books and movies and I tend to break into random lectures on Harry Potter if provoked. I love country music and horses as well in complete contrast, and have lived my whole life in between nerdy and country.
In school I majored in anthropology with a focus on archaeology. I hope to some day pursue a masters degree at OSU but I will always remain faithful to my fighting ducks back in Eugene where football is concerned.
I look forward to meeting many new people through this field school, and learning as much as possible about Grand Ronde heritage, practice, and culture.