Just wanted to follow up on yesterday's post to say that I'm feeling much, much better today ... mostly thanks to the wonderful, supportive comments I got on my post yesterday from the other lovely folks in the postacademic blogosophere. So a hearty THANK YOU to all of you!! :)
I think the comments hit on some very important points that explain why yesterday - even after nearly 18 months out of academia - I got a little dragged down into some self-flagellation.
As several commenters point out, when you're in grad school/academia, you get used to (1) overthinking everything, (2) chronic self-doubt, and (3) feeling like if you're just relaxing and working a normal number of hours, you're a loser/slacker. These unhealthy feelings creep into your brain sometime early in grad school, and they cling to you with a vise-like grip for years afterward, apparently. Ugh.
As I've written before in terms of sadness and bitterness, the ugly feelings will still pop up every now and then, even after you've been gone for awhile. These days, 99% of the time I'm content and more than happy to just go to work and come home and live my life (while making an adult salary).
But there's still that 1% of time where I might suddenly start thinking ".....but I should be doing more with my life! I was going to be a professor!!" It's like the normal ups and downs of anyone's moods, but with an extra helping of guilt piled on about what people who you used to work with several years ago would think of your life and career now. Yuck. How crazy is that?
But as the commenters on my last post pointed out, that's Academic Brain creeping back in. Nothing more, and I don't need to listen to it, because it is a sick, twisted mindset. I need to remember that I am happy and that to feel bad about being happy is crazy!!!
So, thank you again to everyone who commented and who helped me feel better. And to people who haven't left yet - see? The ups and downs are normal ... but the downs are very, very rare now. And usually just need the equivalent of a vigorous head-shake to clear from my brain. It's a far cry from the hours I'd spend crying or the panic attacks I'd have when I was still in academia. It is so much better to be gone.
Just being happy is, in itself, a good thing!! How groundbreaking. :)
And how sad that it's so hard for academics (and postacademics) to really, truly believe it.
Oh, and yes ... my partner and I started planning a beach vacation last night. :) Yayyyy!!!!
As another method of thanks for all of the advice ... we have a new postac blog out there! Doctor Piglet is a social sciences research postdoc who identifies as a Type 1 Leaver. Right off the bat, I have to say that I love hir first set of reasons for leaving - endless meetings and teaching that interfere with your ability to get anything else done, and an insane level of pressure ... as zie writes, not "pressure to get the Olympics running without explosions," but "pressure to write stuff that barely anyone will read, ever. Ever."
Yes!!! Love it!!
Also, be sure to click through to all of the links zie has posted. By this point, I feel like I have surely read everything there is to read on the internet about leaving academia and being a postacademic. But lo and behold, Doctor Piglet has linked to 5-10 things I've never seen before! My personal favorite is here, but like I said ... be sure to check out all of hir links.
Welcome to the postacademic blogosphere, Doctor Piglet! As you can see, we're a pretty supportive bunch. Happy to have you out here!