Another Special Snowflake

As it turned out,(almost) no one abandoned me because of my loss of faith in graduate study. Instead, my relational terror was replaced by an existential terror as I realized that all of those specialized topics we study so deeply for so long in graduate school are — for the most part — of zero interest to anyone else.

Maybe because you aren’t any good at it.

I’m so tired of all this hand-wringing about how nobody cares about our research or reads what we publish. It’s not in the least true. When I was writing my first book, I was taking a lot of Greyhound buses. And on a 38-hour trip you end up striking tons of conversations whether you want it or not. People always asked me what I did, and we had great conversations about it.

All that you need to get your research out to people is to stop thinking that you are such a special cookie whose profound ideas are inaccessible to the hoi polloi. Maybe the problem lies with the delivery and not with the audience.

Quitting graduate school is an entirely valid and wonderful life choice. Just like not quitting graduate school. And most people I know who made it know how to do it without shitting all over alternative choices. And hey, this isn’t even the worst quote I’ve chosen. It gets a lot worse later on in the essay.

9 thoughts on “Another Special Snowflake

  1. With essays like this, I think that people are really writing to themselves, trying to convince themselves that they aren’t really a failure or a loser and that there is life after academia. His “and ya know? It’s okay. Things are good!” sounds like he’s trying to convince himself more than he’s got a chance at convincing me.

    That’s one reason I’m kind of glad my blog is down. If I were writing about how I can envision myself beyond the university and how it doesn’t really matter, I’d want to smack myself. It’s not that I’m going to die outside of academia. It’s just that this kind of writing is like it’s own genre: “loser’s indulgence.”


    1. Wow, I’ve been so overwhelmed that I haven’t even noticed you took down the blog.

      I’m so sorry about the insane tenure thing but you are a survivor. You’ll come out winning. It just stinks that some people have to do so much surviving.


      1. Someone from my UG alma mater wrote to me asking me to apply for a tt job there that starts in the fall. (In my general area.) I don’t know that I will apply because it’s not a super stable place at this point. But I feel like I could get it if I wanted to leave. I don’t know. What would you do?

        At this point I feel like if I’m going to stay in academia, I need to fight for my tenure, and then, if I want to look for other jobs, I need to look for better jobs — not a job that would potentially be a step backwards in terms of research funding and salary, still teaching 4/4.


        1. If the teaching load at the other place is even a bit lower and if they count the years you’ve done at the current place at least partially towards tenure, then I’d go. Your current place sounds quite toxic.


          1. Well the teaching load would be identical, although I’d have fewer students. I talked to the president of the faculty last night and she said they’re way behind on salary. So I’d have to move, take a pay cut, and hope they had some kind of research funding. 😕 I think I just talked myself out of it.


            1. The most important thing is whether they will let you go up for tenure in 2 years or will make you do the full 5. If it’s the latter, then it’s hardly worth it.


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