It's Been a Long Five and a Half Years

With the Yuletide season all up on's, I have been cast into a reflective frame of mind of late. B's now 4.5 months along the pregnancy process and my degree is due to be finished inside of six months. Big life decisions are upon us.

Of all my immediate academic friends (I'm thinking of both those friends and colleagues I know from my cohort at the UO who continued on as well as my friends here at the UC to the SC), I am the first to be finishing the degree. This is turning out to be a very big mixed blessing; I'm jumping off the sinking ship just the financial situation completely falls apart (good), but I'm also completing a dissertation with significant gaps (bad). As I completed research and writing this term, and as I worked with some other dissertators in a reading group, I found out about whole areas I needed to read about, new documents I needed to look at, and most importantly, major themes I needed to introduce in the text itself. I still have a lot to get done.

I'm also the first person among my core group of friends who has witnessed just how grim the academic job market really is. I applied to ten tenure-track jobs, most of which were on the eastern seaboard. I am competing for those jobs with literally every other European history PhD who graduated this year, as well as those from past years who were still looking for work. I will be the first to say that I am a dapper dresser and a good drinking buddy, but those are some long odds to get a job.

The process isn't over yet, so I don't want to get ahead of myself, but for now, I'm feeling very relieved and sort of "peaceful."* I've always said that I just wanted to finish the degree, that I wasn't sure that I was really cut out for the kind of competition and desperation inherent to an academic career. Now, confronted with the realities of the job market, I'm being forced to put my money (side note: what money?) where my mouth is.

* Normally, I only feel this way with the aid of prescription painkillers.


Alexis said...

I commend you on taking the feeling "peaceful" approach. Why, I just said this morning to my co-worker "I think this economy is turning me into a Buddhist." There's a lot of anxiety going around. I'm sincere in sending congratulations for seeking acceptance and peace with it because I think it's the brave and noble path of the ninja. For my part I watched a lotta Lord of The Rings on Saturday ;)

kungfuramone said...

As you know, I have long pursued the brave and noble path of the ninja. I'm glad that we're in this together, A.