Monday, January 9, 2012

Anticipatory socialization: the bursting bubbles of academia

In my final years of my doctorate program, I remember looking ahead to faculty life with the expected trepidation about tenure. I also remember thinking how enjoyable it would be to finally slow down once I graduated. How having a faculty job would mean I could stop the crazy graduate school schedule, the insane number of classes, the periodic adjunct posts, the graduate assistant duties, the (seemingly) endless hours in the library and the even longer hours logged in to the laptop and pounding away at the keyboard while in bed, working until I literally fell asleep.

Allow me to introduce you to my evening. I am currently pounding away at my net book, wondering how I will possibly meet all of the deadlines, while harboring the illusion of sleep by working in bed, fantasizing that once I have tenure things will slow down.

Does the academic life slow down? Is the time management easier on the "other side" of promotion/tenure?

After the bubble was burst that faculty life was NOT easier than graduate student life (insert giant "Duh" and eye rolling here), I have the feeling that I may now be leading myself into yet another bubble-bursting journey throughout the stages of academia.
If I am fortunate enough to earn tenure, I am hoping that I don't allow my illusions (delusions) about the next phase of faculty life to offer a false hope about workload. Somehow, each year gets busier, each semester (though appropriately managed and structured) seems to contain so much MORE than the semester before it.

Or perhaps my energy is starting to fade. Year five of the tenure track. Now dubbed the "this is no joke" year. The year to buckle down even more than the previous four years and make every activity, every minute count.

So, as I sit in my cozy bed, rewarding myself with 20 minutes of blogging "break" time from Project XYZ to mentally refresh, I find myself laughing at the anticipatory socialization of academia. Though I knew better than to think the faculty life would be more manageable, slower, better constructed (after all, I did read the research before embarking on this career choice), somehow I was still deluded into a promise, a wish, a hope, that my world would slow down after graduate school. When it in fact DOUBLED in work, I began to see the next hurdle (getting tenure) as the sure way to finally slow down..."Once I get tenure, things will get easier" can't help but run in my head as a mantra to keep pushing hard and tackling the to-do list. "Once I get tenure, things will get easier" is a kind of carrot dangling in front of this tired horse.

So even if my horsey brain realizes that the stupid carrot doesn't really get any closer as I trudge along, the carrot (the hope of a slow down in work load) is still SO APPEALING that I allow myself to be deluded by its promise, by its presence, and continue laboring on. Because, after all, once I get tenure things WILL get easier.

Hey, don't burst my bubble about that...yet.

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