Back to my real life

I am happily home and back at my real job. After the stint at the SLAC, I love and appreciate my real life even more than I did before… which is a very good thing, because:

  • There’s a process happening at the center right now which was completely planned and explained ahead of time but nonetheless has confused and disgruntled some people.
  • The paper that I submitted for the third time (here and here) has been rejected for the third time, alas. It will require major revisions. At least the comments are somewhat less negative, and although the journal said that it would be treated as a new submission if I resubmitted, it is the first journal that didn’t tell me NOT to resubmit. Progress?
  • My co-authors FINALLY got comments to me on the manuscript I wrote in November. The revisions needed are extensive.
  • It’s time to plan my fieldwork for the summer – and whatever related talk I will present at a conference this summer – which is exciting, but unfortunately I am kind of at a loss to figure out how I will test what it is I am interested in testing. And most importantly, how I will pay for doing anything besides behavioral fieldwork, since the grant I submitted last year was rejected (again), and at the moment my research doesn’t fit very well into my Center’s research themes and is not really eligible for internal funding. Argh.

I’m pretty sure I can handle all that, though, because:

  • I’m living in my own home! Sleeping in my own bed! Showering in my clean bathroom that is free of undergraduate vomit and hair! Cooking my own yummy food in my nice kitchen! Surrounded by my many pets who love me and are happy I’m home! (Plus, there’s that guy I live with…)
  • I have a lovely big office! With a fancy Aeron chair! Where I work with adults who respect me and even seem to like me!
  • I can wear all my nice clothes now, not just the ones that I could squeeze into a suitcase and that were appropriate for trudging across campus in 8+ inches of snow! And I treated myself to four (four!) new pairs of pretty shoes as soon as the teaching gig was done.

So, in summary: Yay, my life! And damn I have a lot of work to do.

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On teaching

When I started grad school, I wasn’t too sure about the whole tenure-track professor thing because I was pretty sure I would hate teaching. In my second year of grad school, I picked up my first of many adjunct teaching assignments to pay the bills… and I didn’t really like it. But as time went on, I got better at it – and of course, it’s always enjoyable to be good at something. And as time went on even further and my livelihood and future prospects all seemed to depend on teaching, I may have convinced myself that I loved teaching.

Then I got a postdoc, and was whisked away to all-research-all-the-time land, a magical happy place (I may be exaggerating slightly). I did not do any undergraduate teaching during my 4 years as a postdoc, though I did co-teach a few graduate courses. When I applied for tenure-track jobs, I gushed about how much I loved teaching and put together a pretty effective teaching statement. My publication record is good but not spectacular, and I have a ton of teaching experience due to the above-mentioned need to pay the bills. So, all of my job interviews were at teaching-heavy schools.

I also always harbored a fantasy that a tenure-track/tenured job at an elite small liberal arts college would be the perfect life. When I took my new job, I tossed aside all talk of ever getting a tenure track job. I suspect it is common to have nagging doubts when one makes a huge life-changing decision so quickly – and of course, I have had them.

I’ve been quiet on the blog because I am actually away from my regular job right now, doing a special winter intersession teaching gig at an elite SLAC that I thought would be awesome. And it is pretty good… but I have had a revelation.

I do not love teaching.

And students at elite SLACs are annoying.

(Ok, that’s two revelations. Or maybe just one – most people probably already knew the second one.)

The old dream is dying, and I feel really good about it. Now I can really and truly move along. Those of you who do love teaching? Please rest assured that I will no longer be competing with you for jobs that you may truly love, but that I am sure I never would.


2011

New Year’s is my favorite holiday – no religious connotations, no presents to buy, no decorations to put up. Just a big party, cocktails, friends, and a fresh start. I like making resolutions, too. I don’t usually make boring resolutions that are hard to enforce like “lose weight” or “spend less money,” but broader goals or themes, like “don’t let the bastards grind me down” (in grad school, 2003) or “Things can only get better” (2010, after a spectacularly horrible 2009). This year, my theme is one that will last for the next three years. This year, I will turn 37, which means 40 is approaching rather quickly – and, as for many people, it also means that I am starting to run out of time. No, I am not talking about having children. I am talking about Being Awesome.

You see, I have always envisioned my 40s as a truly awesome decade. In my 40s, I will be who it is I have been trying to become. I will have my shit together. I will be confident and competent and accomplished and will take shit from no one. Some, like my husband, might say that I am that way already. Perhaps that image is the one I project, but it is not the way I feel inside. In order to Be Awesome, I believe one has to feel awesome inside as well.

I don’t want to suffer from impostor syndrome when I am 40. I don’t want to be insecure and constantly seek approval. I don’t want to feel like a little kid playing at being a grownup when I am 40. I don’t want to be afraid of failure, or take criticism badly.

For the next three years, then, I will start Becoming the 40-Year-Old Woman I Want to Be. I am not sure exactly what this change will entail – probably a shift in perspective, a modification to my usual negative thoughts, better posture, maybe a few lifestyle changes, definitely some new shoes. When faced with a problem, I will say to myself, “How would the 40-year-old me handle this?” and I will do that. If all goes well, then when my 40th birthday does roll around, I won’t have the same thought I had when I turned 30: “I thought I’d be better than this by now.”