To say that 2018 was a fairly crappy year is oversimplifying the reality. It was crappy; my health was bad and I fairly screwed up my professional life, as it was, but it was also good. Good because my academic research interests got a significant jump start by my decision to go back to school and my decision to no longer limit my feelings of self worth because I had realized I was a so/so academic. I worked and studied for my Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and loved that work because it launched my continuing interest in research and methods. I love to learn and teaching in academia was a real hurdle to my continued learning. Yes, I did have some brilliant students and did publish but was hampered in my own learning because I was so consumed with helping others learn. Maybe that’s a noble conceit, that I helped anyone to learn, but that is the only reward of teaching. The administrative side, the service side, the dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s side and the continual pressure to “advance your scholarship” is really debilitating. You simply don’t have the time or the mental resilience to do any of that AND continue working on projects which you find interesting.
Maybe it’s just as well that I am starting over, again, as a student. Now my scholarship can advance without meeting any artificial deadlines to advance my “career.” I appreciate these words from Austin Kleon; “First off, I’m trying to imagine Thoreau or Leonardo limiting their interests to “professional development (https://austinkleon.com/2018/05/20/learning-for-learnings-sake/).” What a wonderful sentence! There is so much I want to know and to do and won’t allow myself or anyone else to define me as a “failed” academic. I am simply an evolving academic.