It is unadvisable to compare onself to one's colleagues. But it at times seems unavoidable. Perhaps that's a sign of depression (unhelpful contemplation). I celebrate for others when they reach success. Yet I feel a distinct lack of success in my professional life.
I wonder why others get interviews and offers and jobs. (Yes, I had some interviews, last season; even one campus visit... but no offers, no job.) I wonder how it is so many ABDs go straight into their faculty careers without a break, signing a contract before they've even finished the diss. I have no malice toward them, just envy. What are they doing right, that I haven't figured out? Or is it really as I hear over and over, just a matter of luck, of being the right person for the job. Most importantly, however, is not to focus on them (though I should delight when friends and colleagues succeed), but to forge ahead on a path that will lead to my own success.
No feedback. That is my biggest bane. I tire of hearing from professors I know, who sit on committees at schools where I've applied, who tell me vague things about "positive comments" or "impressed with my credentials." The problem is, I feel stuck, and vagueries will not lead me forth. One of my committee members repeatedly said my dissertation was "brilliant" and "well-written," though he's provided little feedback otherwise. It's not a matter, I don't believe, of noone understanding what I'm about, or what I'm doing in my research.
The fear I have is that to get a job I need to be doing what people are looking for. But I believe my work is innovative and forges in new directions, meaning it may be a generation of scholars before a department is looking for that expertise. The reality is, this is the right path for me. Each of us takes our paths. The trick is to excel at what we do on the way, not simply in choosing a direction. The hope is that along the way, though it may seem a desert, I will reach some oases, and it will seem worth it.