Monday, September 10, 2007

That sinking feeling

It's that time of year again... when academic postings pop up every couple days. Rocket and I have been doing a lot of talking and considering lately. We've settled on a plan to approach any potential academic post with regard to whether we'd like to live in that city even without a post, whether it might for instance afford a favorable climate for raising a family and starting a business. And, we've decided to be more proactive as well, seeking to find a home, should I not land or take an academic job. We bought a "cities ranked and rated" guide, and started setting marks on a map to visualize where we might like to live. We've started to write up a list of our requirements, and our desirables.

But I still feel nauseous and depressed thinking about another season of applying for jobs. I've been so beaten up by looking for academic posts these past three years. It takes me down a notch just thinking about it. It doesn't matter how many times I'm told that this is par for the course (except of course for those lucky enough to land a post fresh out of grad school). It still sucks. It's a system that makes the best and the brightest feel like the neglected and disregarded!

And yet, I can't seem to hate academia enough to just shut the door. Even weeding through the postings, to decide which ones to set aside is exhausting emotionally. Here I am two years after the PhD, finally teaching at a university, enjoying the classroom and the students, in some ways closer to that elusive first tenure-track post, and part of me wants nothing more than to walk away. But there's a bitter taste in my mouth.

Is it the taste of defeat? Would I be running away from that loss? Or would I be moving on? Is it the taste of "geez I can't believe I stayed in this relationship this long"? Or is it "another audition put to waste!" I just don't know.

So, I tread slowly, ploddingly. I go through the motions. My business is still an embryo. Too much feeling of failure in my life, still. I'm just afraid.


Lilian said...

I understand how tough it is since my husband just went through it. I hope your company idea develops well so you don't have to stress out that much about the academic job market -- whatever happens happens in that respect (easier said than done, I know).

trillwing said...

It's interesting. . . I have a coworker who's on day 5 of quitting smoking, and she sounds exactly like you.

Academia is both a cult AND an addiction. For some folks, it works and it's healthy and they thrive. The rest of us should probably flee, though I agree a clean break is difficult.

A colleague of mine, a Ph.D. who works in student affairs, calls himself a conductor on the underground railroad leading grad students on the long road to freedom from academic careers.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks, friends, for your comments. Trillwing, I LOVE the idea of an underground railroad for grad students. LOL!