It's hard to say just what my current frame of mind about academics is. Or rather, it's hard to say what my current frame of mine about my own trajectory in academics is.
How do I feel about the “job hunt” as a process?
How long will I remain “in the game” before writing it off?
How much am I willing to invest, given the dismal state of the academic job market right now, the fact that I still need to do a certain amount of investment to be competitive, and yet that this investment is highly unlikely even under the best of circumstances to pay off in the end? (N.B. I don't necessarily mean “not eventually getting a tenure-track position” here, though that's certain one concern; it's equally important to realize, however, that if it takes five years of all my wekends and spare time to get there, or if it affects my nonacademic income in negatively in the meantime, it will likely have been a matter of poor investment even if such a position is secured.)
One thing is clear—and this may also have something to do with recent shifts in my teaching situation and new post-ac position: something in me is loosening up.
I mean look at me, I'm sitting her openly musing about what is going on in my life like I used to do on my blog way back in the '90s. A year ago, this would have terrified me; to be openly human, to have an opinion, to speak contemporaneously about “the academy” without a bunch of citations in support of every word—these things are all career no-nos for young would-be academics that are not legacies or superstars.
But I do feel free.
Perhaps this is the freedom that comes with having “other options” not just in theory, but in fact now in practice.
In any case, it all makes me think it may be time once again to return to leapdragon.net after years of grad-school-imposed hiatus.
Have I finally returned? Can I finalky be Aron Hsiao, myself once again, rather than Aron Hsiao, aspiring member of the Very Serious And Unassailable Yet Humorless People Club?
“Inspired” isn't precisely the right word for the way I feel. Neither is “liberated.” It's something more along the lines of “reintegrated” after a long period of dis-integration, or at the very least, the management of considerable internal paradoxes and tensions.
“Use it or lose it,” goes the conventional wisdom, and for seveal years now I've been worried that I was, in fact, losing it, if it wasn't lost already. But perhaps the worm has turned—and there is yet room for my mind to function properly again.