Monday, July 16, 2012

Popping my head in

So, truthfully, I thought we might be finished here at Everything Over Rice. I wasn't sure if anyone even noticed that we had faded into the carpet. Perhaps we had run out of things to say, and besides, several blogs that I love had come to the end of their roads lately.

But I had a thought today (!) and had a real urge to blog about it.

I was looking at a website about alternate careers for PhDs, and I followed links to several other blogs about how to leave academia, how much the academy sucks, how many other things you can do with yourself. I read the site because it's thoughtful and smart and creative. However. As I've mentioned, I get into jags when I feel like a fool for being in the academy. I start to think that I must be as pitiful as everyone keeps saying. That I really am being paid like a ditch digger and that I hate all manner of committees, students, professors, and administrators. And that the holy grail is never coming to me--well, okay that's probably true. But, what if your particular holy grail isn't exactly what hoity-toity ivory tower folks somewhere decided? What if my entire professional goal is not to be the big enormous star weilding a fiery torch of all things intellectual? What if you don't exactly feel tricked by the system? What if you don't think it's evil and soul-sucking?

So that's the thing. I don't hate it. I'm (logically) concerned that a tenure track job won't ever be available to me unless I move, which is unlikely, and maybe not even then. And that's why I check out these blogs and websites about working outside of academia. If I'm being honest, though, I don't know if TT is the only professional thing that will make me happy and satisfied. The work itself--the teaching and the students and the research--I'm pretty cool with that. And I have most of that even without the TT.

The other reason that I stay in this field is that, while I could probably find other kinds of work, I don't know that I'd want to actually do other kinds of work. I mean, every thought of sitting at office desks with stacks of files makes me quesy. There's also my sense that the perspectives of those who see the academy as the third circle of hell hone in on issues that I just don't believe are absent from corporate or other arenas. My husband is frequently stressed by office politics that seem more intense and at least as illogical as the ones in university hallways. I see how people are mired in work that absolutely must be done right now, lest they trigger the apocalypse. How they are working on laptops all night or arguing in meetings or staying late at the office. And for what?

There's my dirty secret: I like it.

So, I'm going to try to avoid getting bogged down in the blogosphere of "academia sucks" just as I'm trying to avoid googling people I know to see how fabulous they are. Both make me feel like I'm failing.

And, besides, I have syllabi to write. The semester's starting soon.