I recently passed the 90 day mark at my new(ish) non-academic job (I can’t yet bring myself to identify as “post”-academic), and felt it was finally time to will myself back onto the blog to reflect on a few things.
Yes, I said “will” myself, and for good reason. Things happened very quickly for me at the start of the summer, which is now all but officially gone; one day I was grading final exams for my spring term Shakespeare course, and two days later I was 100 miles away, starting a new job, while my wife held down the fort in our old hometown. I was completely taken aback by the wave of exhaustion that hit me at the end of July, when our move was finalized and we were able to start getting settled in at our new home. After a day spent in front of a computer at work — without the constant interruptions and movement that a teaching position afforded, moving from one classroom to the next, talking to students, shifting to another campus location for an hour, etc — I found myself crawling home and collapsing on the sofa night after night. Usually, somewhere around 8:00, the idea would hit me to fire up the blog and do a post, or go back to work sketching out a paper / an article / a story — and then I’d realize the dog still needed another walk, there was a work email or notice to follow up on, and before long it was 10:00, and I had absolutely nothing left in the tank.
To keep it all short, the “processing” process is far more draining than I had anticipated, even after spending generous amounts of time reading blogs like Leaving Academia and the hundreds of discussions on Versatile PhD, as well as many other sites relating to either teaching at the university level, academic job markets (both offering positive advice and critical perspectives), or resources for successful transitions out of academia. So much of my social media activity — Tumblr, WordPress, Twitter — was dominated by academic interests, teaching resources, and job market information that logging in to each of these was surprisingly taxing; on each log-in, I faced a wall of information relating to a world I was no longer a part of, at least not in the way I had envisioned.
I have a deeply ingrained personal philosophy, one which only applies to myself (in true Old World Scandinavian fashion), which simultaneously tells me that all effort is futile anyway, in the great existentialist game of life, yet exerting effort in the face of this is the key to life itself. This leads me to get quite frustrated with myself in transition periods, where I find I need to take time to turn off the social media feeds and just reflect; it amps up the failure quotient, in my mind.
I’ve always tended to think of this blog as a very different interface with the world at large, for me — a space of critical thought and analysis about cognitive theory, renaissance literature and philosophy, and various aspects of modern culture as well. I’ve resisted using this blog, much, as a space of personal exploration. But I’ve concluded that it’s time I changd course and embrace that impulse. As the great Montaigne wrote, in “Of Experience,” a masterwork if ever there was one, “I study myself more than any other subject. That is my metaphysics; that is my physics.” In short, I’m choosing to embrace life, in all of it’s many twists and turns. So, if you don’t mind the occasional ramblings of a scholar set adrift in the world, please keep following, and thank you!