Monday, June 26, 2006

Why do successes feel anti-climactic?

I sent off the revised version of my big dissertation distillation article a little while ago. It's off my desk, off my to-do list. I don't feel much elation however. A bit of relief that I can move on. I guess in some ways, it just feels like more of the same. The big question for me is whether anything will come of it.

It's not that I've really been sitting on my hands, doing nothing, just waiting for something to happen, some job to come knocking on the door. I mean, I have applied for a few jobs (somewhere north of 100 in the past three years). I've given conference talks, and invited lectures. I've published articles, organized and chaired conference sessions. I created a personal research website, which has averaged somewhat more than 10 individual visitors daily since it's inception two months ago. Get famous, that was the dictum. Patience is always my trouble.

I sent in the application materials for the RCUK Academic Fellowship on Thursday night. Done. There's at least one more RCUK fellowship come up that looks attractive to me. So, I'll be applying in the next couple weeks. It does look like positions are opening up in the UK and elsewhere. I guess their job season begins earlier than here in the States. So, I'll be applying. But I confess enthusiasm is harder and harder to come by these days. And when the excitement comes, it is inevitably followed by a hard crash, an existential crisis about my career and life choices.

The Rocket Scientist and I have been having quite a few heart-to-hearts lately about where we wish to be and how and when. We're trying to plan our exit strategy from where we are. We're a family. That's important. The trouble is, I've been expecting something to come along, some opportunity to take. It's like I've been fishing with all sorts of bait, but the fish just aren't biting, and though I'm not yet getting hungry, I'm getting pretty bored of waiting.

I find the more I go along the less confident I am in knowing what sort of career I want. Somewhere along the way, I got stuck in auto-pilot, down the highway to an academic career, and I can't remember which off-ramp I've taken, or just which way to turn. I've got to spend some time figuring out what I really want to be doing. And I'll need to honestly assess the best way to do that. In the meanwhile, I guess I'm free. No obligations for the summer (oh yeah, well, there's that book review... but I'm not going to worry about it. They haven't followed up. I'll either get around to finish reading the book, and writing it up, or I won't).

Nothing pressing. Time to step back from the tree of my life, reassess the shape of its crown, and decide on how best to prune it for optimum growth.

2 comments:

Propter Doc said...

It just does feel that way when something finally gets done. I'm sorry. I really hope everything works out for the best for you in the end.

Lilian said...

One more time, yours and our family's situation seems so similar! I hope you find your way soon...

I like the metaphors you're using,like fishing with all kinds of bait and how to prune the tree of your life...