Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A New Thing?

You might remember this post from last year, in which I lamented my yearly cycle into sadness about my career. So, I'm feeling kind of sad again. While other people, I presume, are thinking of the interviews they will have, or the ones they had at MLA, of what they will do next year, I am reminded that I am only hoping for a future. I had a substantive conversation with someone today about what it means to be in academia--not just the paltry number of positions available, but also the frustrations of teaching and research. I came to a new realization of how I might be able to think of the skills I've spent umpteen years building. There actually might be other things I can do with myself. There might be jobs that I can't even name or don't even know about. There might be positions that, even now, I could apply for that I automatically assume that I can't do because I'm such a peon. It didn't help that I walked in the door at home and The Hubby bombarded me with two unexpected opportunities he has to move higher on his ladder; I felt a little deflated because I'm pitifully grappling with my imaginary chances to make a career move and here he is with concrete avenues to pursue.

But here's the thing: It's scary. I really like most of the parts of my job. I love running my own little corner of the world called my classroom. I love (about 75% of the time) the relationships with my students. I love, love, love the freedom of the summers and the flexibility to switch things up on a daily, weekly, semesterly basis. I love having the chance to talk about ideas that totally rock my world. I would like to be paid more and I'd like some sense that I don't have to beg for crumbs.

So, if I step into some other world, will I have to actually work 9-5? That seems nightmarish. Will I sit in an office all day? Also nightmarish. Will I have to work with a bunch of adults who get on my nerves? Will I even be able to do it? Will I want to, or will I be bored? Will I miss too much time with my children and run screaming back to the academy (where I will probably be thoroughly ignored)?

I'm a rules following kind of girl, so the whole idea that I can just up and do something else is nuts! But what if I could actually pull it off . . . .

9 comments:

Ink said...

Oh my gosh, I understand what you mean! Was thinking yesterday about how it would be nice to have a position where I don't have to constantly re-read the same texts over and over again. But then I also came smack up against the 9-5yness and paused.

But re: you, you can absolutely pull it off if that's what you want to do!

The Steel Magnolia said...

Ink: I love that when I put something out into the universe, my bloggy friends co-sign! But here's thing: Do I want to pull this off? I don't know. I really don't. ArrrggghhH!

Ink said...

I have been thinking about your post since yesterday and suddenly I realized that the paragraph in which you list all of the things you love seemed really important.

You love most of it, right? So what is the thing that would make you want to stay put? Advancement opportunities? Is there a way that you could integrate those (perhaps that you haven't actively researched/pursued yet)? Administration? Program direction?

Ink said...

Oh, and ps, I meant to say I'm sorry that you're feeling sad. Many hugs, dear Steel.

The Steel Magnolia said...

Awwww. Thank you. I'm not feeling nearly as sad today. You're right--I do love teaching and thinking. In fact, the person I was speaking with did suggest administration and some other kinds of positions that I hadn't ever considered. I think that, mostly, I just want to stop feeling low on the totem pole.

Good Enough Woman said...

Curious about how you're feeling these days, Steel . . .

The Steel Magnolia said...

GEW: Sorry it took a millions years to answer. And thanks for asking. The answer is that I like my work. Try as I might, I can't think of any other job (except co-host on The View, of course!) that would make me happy to go to work and feel that I was doing something important. How am I feeling? Like I'm going to stop reading blogs about how academia sucks and how to leave it!

naptimewriting said...

I get into that sadness spiral at least twice a year. I'm on the opposite side from you: I dropped out of academia for more jobby jobs. 9 to 5 in the beginning, but quickly proved myself and started to write my own ticket.
And my spiral involves "I should go back, I should finish the degree, I should teach again." I force myself to read blogs about how academia sucks and how to leave it so I can keep from spiraling into academia because I think I've found a pretty good niche.
But boy oh boy do I hear you. Everything is a sacrifice, but some feel more desperately wrong than others.
Good luck.

The Steel Magnolia said...

Oh, naptime! I wrote this new post about work and decided to revisit this post. Glad to hear your thoughts. Greener grass and all that, huh? Thank you!