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I want to be an academic.


Today, I’ve just wrapped up the first of a string of conferences to end off 2015.

It’s 0218hrs. I’m on a squishy air mattress, half trying to edit a paper, half trying to finish up a paper, and half trying to make sense of life (sorry about the math).

Here goes.

I submitted my thesis ten weeks ago.

After a rather anti-climatic thesis-printing experience and a wonderful thesis-submission day, I jumped straight into a very exciting fellowship stint and new fieldwork in Singapore over six weeks. I missed my person and negotiated LDR technologies all over again, but also enjoyed a kickass conference where the organizers had faith to let a group of postgrads/ECRs run our own panel (I think we did great because book).

This post-submission frenzy has been a wild and busy ride, but I also feel extremely fulfilled because I finally get to jump on the five hundred new projects I’ve had to put off for the thesis. Now I can do all the things! (Sorry to the two people to whom I owe papers. I will be efficient in the next two days. I pinky promise.)

But being solidly planted in academic circles in the last ten weeks (instead of journeying off to some exotic restful place post-submission because lol poor grad student lol) also meant that I have had to navigate the usual questions:

What are your plans now?

Are you staying in academia or leaving?

Have you applied for any jobs?

Research jobs or teaching jobs? 

How mobile are you?

What about your partner?

What about your future kids?

How is the book going?

Do you have a publisher yet?

Today, I realize that I’ve always been vagueing my way through these conversations.

I say that I want academia but I don’t know if academia wants me.

I say that I’ve applied to things but I don’t want to reveal where to.

I say that I am somewhat mobile but will somehow negotiate FIFO and just wing it.

I say that the book will happen eventually when I ask publishers if I may pls have x01 book contract.

But you know what? I actually do know the answers to all of these.

I want to be an academic and I’m pretty sure some segment of the academy would value my work.

I’ve applied to things at places where I think I stand a pretty good chance.

I honestly don’t know how I will manage mobility and the things that are precious to me, but I will work it out. Plus, I have a super awesome person.

The book contract? Dude. I am going to write like 100 books. (Have you not seen my #need100postdocs stream of consciousness on Twitter? It is so good.)

SOOOO, I am trying to understand myself and work out why I always vague my way through these conversations.

I cannot decide if it’s just my auto-pilot brainfarting,

whether I am shy/afraid to reveal my aspirations,

or whether I am underestimating myself.

Today has also been a mixbag of emotions for some of my peers on the job front.

A new colleague I met today got tenure (today!). Another colleague has decided to leave academia. One close peer is taking a break from her PhD to address her depression and mental health. And another colleague is rethinking her inter-state job offer after considering the burden of a LDR.

This is a lot of information to process in one day. But it has also been a day of mutual care, congratulations, and consolation mediated via text, pusheen stickers, and emoji.

I value the fact that I have this space and people with whom I can think through these job things.

And I think today is the day I publicly declare that I want to be an academic.

I don’t know what, I don’t know how, I don’t know when. My thesis is still under examination (!!!) But I am going to go to there.

Beep here.

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