Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm Still Here! And You're Still Not Alone! (Part 10)

Just a quick post today to let everyone know that yes, I'm still here!

We've been unbelievably swamped at work, and unfortunately this past weekend I had to go out of town yet again for another funeral. This one was for a family member who'd been very old and very sick for a long time, so it was one of those funerals that was both sad and happy at once - since we were sad to lose him but it was also a blessing that he was finally at peace.

Anyway, between traveling and scrambling to catch up at work, I haven't had much time to think up new posts ... much less write them. Things should be back to normal next week, I hope.

But in the meantime, since finals are coming up at most schools and I'm sure there are a lot of you out there who are feeling overwhelmed/desperate at this time of year? I thought I'd post a list of the search terms bringing people to the blog in the past couple of weeks.

Once again, I give you a reminder that you're not alone if you're growing to dislike academia or if you no longer think the industry will allow you to live the kind of adult life that you want because of the scarcity of jobs or the adjunct career path that most of us get sent down. You're not alone, and you can find happiness outside of academia if you want.

Search terms bringing people to the blog this week:

"i hate grad school"
"should i drop out of graduate school"
"my academic career is a failure"
"academia is not for me"
"i hate research"
"grad school depression"
"telling my boss i'm quitting academia"

Trust me ... you aren't the first person to run such a search. And you won't be the last.

I sometimes think that the best thing that we postacademic bloggers do for the academic world is simply by providing models for grad students that you're not abnormal or stupid if you want to do something else with your life.

It's like I told a grad student friend of mine over dinner/drinks last night - academia and grad school may be wonderful and fulfilling for a lot of people. But for those of us who don't love it, we have no frame of reference while we're in the middle of the system for (1) identifying that we aren't happy doing academic work anymore and for (2) trying to figure out what to do next. You either love academia or you're a stupid idiot who wasn't smart enough to cut it. There's no recognition of the fact that - just like with any job - there will be some people who don't find academic work and the academic lifestyle fulfilling.

And so you wind up with people running these type of google searches in the wee hours of the morning, hoping that they're not the only ones who feel this way.

And I can't even imagine what this feels like for people who love academia but have to leave because they can't survive on an adjunct salary. Not only are they leaving a career they love, but they're receiving the message that they're not only stupid for leaving, but also shallow or materialistic for thinking about silly things like "money" or "career stability." How dare adults want to pay their bills and feed their families? Don't they know that it's all for the love of the discipline????

Well, screw that. You're not alone if you hate the work or if you are unwilling to do work you love for a poverty wage and no job security. You are not alone, and you are not stupid, and you are not materialistic or shallow. You're having valid emotions and making responsible adult decisions for yourself and your family. And the outside world isn't all terrible and unfulfilling and boring.

I've been stressed out and working my rear end off all week to get caught up ... but you know what's awesome? When I walk out of the building, the work stays here. And no one expects me to do anything until I walk back in the following morning. My coworkers seemed stressed as all hell from how busy we all are. To me, the pace and mental pressure is downright leisurely. The postacademic world has its challenges, but for those of us who can't stand the academic life, it can be a huge relief.

More to come later this week, once things calm down a bit. In the meantime, check out the blogroll to the right. My fellow postacademic bloggers have been writing some great stuff lately!!


  1. As a Type II leaver, I appreciate the end of post pep talk, JC!

  2. Yes, really good pep talk! Yes, the postacademic world does have its challenges but you have to ask yourself can you survive mentally as the discipline really worth it? It is to worth it? Does it really care about you? Do the members of the discipline care about you? No. The relationship between you as the academic and the discipline is broken. Career stability and money, job satisfaction, etc are important. No-one, as you've pointed out here, should be paid a poverty wage and lack job security. Thank you JC for the blog post and the pep talk.

  3. As someone who just decided to leave this semester and today, just had my last grad seminar, this pep talk is truly appreciated. I can't say thank you enough for how much this blog had helped me.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I'm glad that the blog has been useful to you, and that you have made the decision to leave. Certainly leaving isn't right for everyone, but once you realize that you want to do something else there is absolutely NO REASON you shouldn't leave ... no matter how much other academics might try to convince you otherwise.

      Good luck to you!

  4. 9 years in a non-tenure track position, decided to leave today to go to publishing. just thanks for this blog, because dude it is like leaving a cult... I'm just going to keep coming back and reading this over and over until I'm all the way out into the new nonacademic job.

    1. Wow! Good luck to you, and kudos to you for figuring out what makes you happy and what kind of work environment you deserve.

      I have made the cult comparison many, many, many times. Believe me, I know what you're saying.

      Best of luck to you, and keep checking back here if you need further encouragement or motivation!

  5. JC, you helped me in a rough time, and just want to tell you that I will leave Academia in a few weeks, it is the best for me and I can't wait to feel that my early 30's won't be a waste of time. Just wanted to tell you that your blog gave me the love and support that I need and couldn't find not even in my home, but also while being an Adjunct. Thanks!

    1. Awww, thanks!! :) I'm so glad my blog helped you out, and I wish you luck in your future endeavors!!

      If you (or anyone else reading here) successfully transitions out of academia and would like to write a guest post, please email me! I'd love to have some other people tell their stories if they're so inclined!