Wednesday, September 26, 2012

how talking helps

I just had an excellent conversation with my husband over the phone about the "delicate subject" I've been blogging about daily for some days now.

It turns out the things he had to say were excellent and because he really knows me and wants what is best for me (and us), the points he raised should definitely be taken into consideration as I debate what to do next. In fact, I don't know the reason why we were having a hard time talking about it.

According to K the biggest problem of this situation is when I start ranting about how academia is bad, and this and that, and he said that what he doesn't want to see happen is me applying for this and then being upset about it later. 

I cannot discuss some of the main issues that he pointed out because I would be further disclosing details about our two institutions that I don't want to disclose, lest we lose our semi-anonymity  (and, as you know, I maintain that as a request from my husband who doesn't want people to find him out through my blog or colleagues of him finding out that I have a blog).

I'll be happy to discuss more details over email if you're curious. Thank you SOOOO much, B* for your supportive comments, they mean the world to me. I will address some of the issues you brought up below.

Regarding my employment now and this position that is opening, I was hired as a last minute substitute for an ABD adjunct who left (for Harvard!). They value what I am doing and everyone keeps thanking me for being there, etc. The thing is, I wasn't looking for this job, it "found" me (via a friend's email), and when I applied for this late position, I had no idea they had done a search last year (in fact, it was great that I did not know and had not applied). When they hired me they already knew they were going ahead with the search. Maybe they won't mind if I apply, but K thinks it would be awkward -- particularly for me, if not for them.

Why could this be a problem for me? Well... it turns out that I have horribly thin skin. I do not handle feedback and rejection well. Quite the opposite. I cannot read student evaluations, they make me sick to my stomach. I get depressed and all my insecurities come rushing to my conscious life and suddenly I'm in the depths of despair. For several days, weeks even.

I know, I need therapy, lots of it, but I haven't done it yet.

So K had many valid points. And that, coupled with my inability to be productive and concentrate and work -- I need to get diagnosed (or not) with adhd and treated too are only two of the reasons why I always thought that a tenure track job could not be for me. And I think there are more reasons.

What upsets me and always has is that it's very hard/nearly impossible to continue to pursue my passion for research in the humanities if one is not in a tt position. Why?? Because it's useless!! You don't get paid for it and it doesn't count for anything and one's also lacking the external motivation (the fact that you are required to do it helps one be productive).

so, yeah... and K himself gave up a much more demanding tt job (&half a million!) because he thought it wasn't the right thing for our family (place too). In a few years I'm going to have two teenage boys and we are not going to move because we live next to the academy where they're going to go to school, so the commuting would continue indefinitely. Is this really what I would want for me and our family?

And in the end, I think it's a useless discussion because no matter whether I apply or not, I don't think they're hiring me. I BET they will hire one of those again. ;) Yeah... and have I mentioned that applying makes me a pile of nerves and is really bad for me? Do I really want to go through this hassle again when it's basically guaranteed that I will keep my job as it is for the foreseeable future? (even at the two universities at the same time).

Things could change as I try to casually talk to people about this, but... Nah... I don't think this will be happening.

Edited to add: My friend Anjali posted an excellent question in the comment section below. Yes, I will keep my job, they renew it yearly, they always have a "professor" and an underling (lecturer or adjunct). I just won't get to teach any upper level classes (the more "fun" ones) and I'm not expected to do research (part and parcel of a tt job), just teach, do my job well, and carry on...

Curiosity which I will delete tomorrow: my dept. chair here is married to a dept. chair at my husband university (where I still teach one class). fascinating! ;)


Anjali said...

OK, so I'm a little confused about one thing...

If this year they find and hire the tt person they couldn't find last year-- will you still have the job you have now? Or will they get rid of you for a full time tt?

(Sorry, I just don't understand the ins and outs of academia very well.)

BrightStar (B*) said...

Thanks for sharing more of your story. The job search in academia is so rough, compiled on with the two body situation can feel insurmountable. I understand your feelings. Hugs.

BrightStar (B*) said...

Also, I loved reading that the job that "found" you seems to value you and appreciate you. :)