Why Everybody Loses When Someone Leaves Academe

Feb 16, 2018 by

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

By Erin Bartram –

It happened in early January, when all my historian friends were at the annual meeting of the AHA, the leading organization in our field.

I was sitting at home, revising my manuscript introduction and feeling jealous of my friends, when I got an email telling me my last (and best) hope for a tenure-track job this year had evaporated. I’d promised myself that this would be my last year on the market. Of course, I’d promised myself that last year, too, and then decided to try again. But this time, I knew it was over.

I closed my laptop and walked out of my office. In that moment, I couldn’t bear to be surrounded by the trappings of a life that had just crumbled around me. The perfect reading lamp, the drawer of fountain-pen ink, the dozens of pieces of scratch paper taped to the walls, full of ideas to pursue. The hundreds of books surrounding me, collected over nearly a dozen years, seemed like nothing more than kindling in that moment.

I cried, but pretty quickly I picked myself up and started thinking about the future. The circumstances of the job I didn’t get were particularly distressing, so I discussed it with non-academic friends, explaining over and over again that yes, this is the way my field works, and no, it wasn’t surprising or shocking to me, and no, I wouldn’t be able to “come back” later, at least in the way that I’d want to, and yes, this was probably what was always going to happen. And then I started looking forward.

Only now do I realize how messed up my initial reaction was.

continue: Why Everybody Loses When Someone Leaves Academe – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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