New Academic Year’s Resolution

Z, a fellow Hispanist, has been churning out great posts one after another. Her most recent post has inspired me to make a new academic year’s resolution.

When I was starting out my career in academia as an advanced undergrad and a beginning grad student, I believed that academia was amazing, research was the most fun thing you could ever imagine yourself doing, and publishing was easy. And it was. All those things were true for me at that time. Publications rolled in, research progressed, and I wanted to dance around in the library all day long.

Then, I gradually got convinced that life was hard and academic life was even harder, research was painful, and publishing was impossible. And when I started to believe it, it all came true. The research, the publications, and the enjoyment all dried up.

So today I have decided: no more of that. I don’t want to participate in any more “Our lives are so miserable” conversations. Just being around when they occur gradually infects you with this attitude. I remember when I was at the MLA, interviewing for jobs, I absolutely loved the experience. Both times. It was pure, unadulterated enjoyment for me. But everybody kept saying it was so horrible and stressful, so I started feeling like it should be horrible and stressful. I started pasting the miserable expression I observed on others onto my face to avoid standing out.

And what do you think the end result was? I became completely stressed out and fell very ill. Gradually, of course, the long-suffering, tortured expression stops being a mask and becomes your only true face.

Here is more brilliance from Z on this subject:

Must we talk about struggle and suffering every day? Did you not get involved in this because it was interesting? I did, and  I think I deserve to remember that as much as anyone. I know a lot of people admire the straining academic persona but is that who you gravitate toward? Why not be strong and confident and competent if you can?

So this is the state of mind I am planning to recover from now on:

In this liberation front writing is fun, publishing is easy, teaching is a pleasant social and artistic experience, and administration is creative. These things are said in a bad situation, that we recognize as such. I recognize your bad situation as well. I am not willing, however, to perform difficulty at this time. I am interested in performing ease.

I really really like this. The entire post this is taken from has been printed out and is now on the walls of my office at work and my home office.

Oh, this feels good.

2 thoughts on “New Academic Year’s Resolution

  1. This is good. As a humanities grad student I’m often paralyzed by all the gloom and doom tales I hear about how hard it is to publish, to get into a good Ph.D. program, to make enough money to live off of. I have this terrible fantasy that I’m going to get my doctorate only to end up busking Milton on a street corner for spare change.


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