Those of you who have been following my journey these past several years will recall how I struggled with the choice to leave academia. And yet, I still hold on, a bit at least. I still check to see if that post across the sea has been reopened. Will I reapply? Should I? Part of me wants a good reason not to.
I can't quite explain why my recent success is not yet enough cause. Though it's getting close. What is the appeal? Sure, it's a five year fixed term, with the possibility of tenure. That's attractive in itself. I may be entering the realm of two-year contracts, but the sand beneath my feet remains uncertain. The life of an entrepreneur is not known to be secure. But, as RocketMom points out, working for a large university, even as a relatively independent research faculty member, would be worlds different from my current state.
At present, I am in so many ways free. But then... aren't we always? We so often get stuck in our ways, believing ourselves caught in a life, when the choice is most often our own. I believe in large part it's because we wish to have our options limited, since endless possibilities are daunting. They represent, as Douglas Coupland put it (when he was still a good writer), "options paralysis".
I am... afraid. Exhilirated, yes! But afraid nonetheless. I fear that this present mode, this current life, which appears so wonderful, so many scoops of ice cream above the once empty cone that was the sum total of my life after the PhD, is but a phantom, on the verge of vanishing into the ether from which it emerged.
You see, beneath the veneer, I feel pretty much the same on both sides of this door. My old mentor, Tasse Plein, paid me a related compliment, when I recently called on him out of the blue in The City, where he lives and works. He was thrilled for my recent run of success (even before the latest news).
I mentioned that I was so accustomed to disappointment in my professional life, that I was having some difficulty accepting what had every appearance of being success. He kindly put in that he thought I'd manage, that I wasn't the sort of person who would change much from it.
But if I haven't changed all that much, how do I make sense of the world around me changing? And so, I hold on to a bit of the world I knew for so long, the world of academia, as still a possible home, but a home that I wish the freedom to accept or leave. I want that choice, the choice that was denied me for so many years, even if I might choose not to take it.