It’s been six years since I finished my terminal degree (a Ph.D. can really sound like a disease, can’t it?). And that means, if I had followed the destined career path that my cohorts took, I would be tenured this year. (yes, I’m assuming I would be a bad-ass tenured professor). Instead, I hopped off that treadmill after a total of 5 years in various full time Higher Ed positions. I look at my friends, who – thanks to glorious nature of Facebook are all posting about receiving their tenure notices this year, and I gotta admit, I’m
really fucking a bit jealous. The tenure process is a real bitch, that has about as much transparency as the FreeMasons. So, to make myself feel better, I’m going to list all the things that I’ve accomplished in the last 6 years that my colleagues have not.
- Marriage. Take that for what you will, but none of my colleagues are married. No dual appointments at a university necessary for their decisions to pack up and move to a new college town. They also miss out on the daily joy of after-work negotiations (what’s for dinner? where are your parents? who’s picking up the kids? did you do the laundry?) I am the CEO of my house.
- Gestation. That’s right. I grew 2 people inside me, and didn’t screw it up, either. And, I actually did that while in the tenure chase. None of my colleagues have kids, much less made them.
- Child rearing. Not sure what else to call this, but if you think about the massive amount of things babies need to learn , I have exceeded my teaching load. Eating, walking, pooping, reading….you name, I taught it. This should count more than a publication in an early childhood journal.
- Started my own non-profit. I love music teaching so much, that I started my own company just to do it better. I’m allowed to examine and criticize because I am no longer entrenched in the profession. Ok, so we are still a small non-profit company — and non-profit takes on a whole new meaning when it’s yours. But hey, I did, they didn’t.
- Start taking classes that actually interest me as a human. Especially in this last year when I’ve been very freelance, and have had
less workmore free time than I planned, I have tried to pursue more of my passions and less of the “have to’s”. I took creative writing and songwriting classes this past year – not because I had to, or thought I should – but because I wanted to take them. Some people love studying quantitative research design, or educational philosophy. Not me. I spent the last 3 years of my education taking the classes I needed to take, and not the ones I wanted to take. To paraphrase of Steve Jobs famous graduation speech at Stanford — I dropped out of their interests, and dropped into mine.
None of these things isolation will quell the sinking feeling in my stomach when someone asks “so, what are you doing now?” and I don’t have a flashy title to throw around. But they have made me, on the whole, a much happier person than I believe a solitary career focus would have done. And I still have faith that all of these things combined are preparing me for my next bad-ass, tenure demolishing, flashy title with a shiny business card that makes you drool, phase of life.