(1) It's now been about two months since I decided to pack up and leave academia. Originally, I thought that it might just be a phase - that once I gave myself the "okay" to take a few months off and the permission to leave if I wanted, that I might find myself missing research/teaching and wanting to go back to it. I thought I'd feel the itch to work on a paper (even if I couldn't stomach my dissertation) or to seek out a teaching opportunity for the summer or fall.
Well, I don't. I don't miss it at all, any of it. Not one bit. I haven't been back to my department, haven't pursued any teaching opportunities, and haven't so much as opened a research file to work. And haven't missed it one iota.
That's not to say I'm not doing interesting things. I've started this blog, for one. I've also read two very interesting books related to my field in the last two months ... not related to my specialty area, but just in my field. Remember how I said that I love learning? Yeah. I love learning and reading. I don't love my research. And right now, my part-time job ends like any other job, and I'm free to go home and pursue my hobbies and interests, like a normal person. No more working late into the night, or guilt about whether I'm working enough. I do my work and go home to do my thinking and reading on whatever I want. And it's glorious.
People in other jobs would probably laugh at me saying that I don't miss my old job ... they'd say "well, of course you don't miss it! Who would miss work? Who loves their work?"
But that's the thing I've learned about academia. It's expected not just that you'll do your job, but that you'll love your job. And really, with such an uncertain job market, low pay, and the likelihood that I'd wind up living and working somewhere I'd hate ... why should I continue down this path if I don't love it and don't miss it?
(2) In the last week, I've received five rejection letters from schools I applied to, stating that they had decided not to fill the position and "invite me to reapply next year."
Do you guys have any idea how long it takes to put together an academic job packet? Those five failed searches easily represent 30-50 hours of my time.
And I'm not suggesting that they should have hired me or even that they don't have valid reasons for closing the search.
But understand this: you will pour your heart and soul into some of these applications, assuming that they'll at least be considered, even if you aren't hired.
But sometimes, it's just like almost everything else in academia ... a lot of wasted time, for absolutely no professional gain or personal enjoyment.
I can't even imagine how other candidates who were banking on the academic job search feel when they see those "cancelled search" letters come through. At least I know I only wasted 5 months of my life, not more than a year while I cycle through the market 2-3 times.