inside

In a comment to a previous entry, fellow army military brat Geoffrey writes the following:

We’re obviously at similar crossroads in our lives and approaching things similarly. What academia promises you will not sustain you. Look elsewhere for happiness and let things fall where they may.

It’s tough for me to sort out all the things I’m feeling, from my disappointment over recent events, to some of my frustration with my institution, to my love for most of my colleagues, my enthusiasm for my students, my fascination with my primary research topic.

I am not certain that academia is failing me, failing to “sustain” me. Everyone faces obstacles: the question is how resilient one is in response. I suppose it’s possible that I do not have the kind of resilience necessary for working at this institution. I’m not sure. But given the larger world of higher education that surrounds the particular university where I work (and the larger environment that surrounds the world of higher education), I realize that I don’t need to keep beating my head against a wall, assuming that deciding not to continue here represents a personal or professional shortcoming, a dramatic failure of some kind.

As grad students in the humanities, we are told again and again and again that the tenure-track job market is terrible: something like 60% of all English PhDs will not land t-t jobs. As a result, we end up thankful for any job that will have us. It seems clear from my own experience and from the experience of others I know that this message leads to some pretty unhealthy rationalizations. It doesn’t have to be this way. We do have a choice.

Having said all of that, I am not leaving my current job. However, I am rethinking my relationship to the place where I work.

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