So I think that this will be the first in a series of posts in which I try to be reflective about all of this crap.
Why Go on the Market?
A lot of people would say that I should be happy in my current position. And you know what I'd say? I'd say that I am. I am not in any way "unhappy" with my current job. Dissatisfied in some respects, yes, but that's not the same thing as "unhappiness." Let's list the positives of this job, just to show you that I'm not delusional in claiming happiness:
- I am in a small-medium city. This means that I have good libraries (research and public), good museums, and good restaurants.
- I am paid a good salary for my field and my area of the country. Since leaving graduate school, I have been able to live like a grown-up and to buy things without thinking about it first.
- I have a great deal autonomy in all areas of my job. This can be annoying sometimes, but for the most part I would rather have complete control over things like the courses I teach, classroom practices, research agenda, service I choose to do, etc.
- My department is collegial and friendly, without too many weird factions or points of tension between people.
- People seem to think that I'm doing a good job, and I've received a number of opportunities that confirm the high opinion of my colleagues.
- I've been able to maintain an active research agenda, in no small part because I've had good support in the form of travel money, as well as some awards from the institution that have helped.
- I like teaching first-generation college students.
Part of me thinks that I should fuck off and be happy with what I've got. I feel guilty for wanting more or better or different or whatever. But here are the reasons why I don't listen to those nagging voices of negativity in my head.
- Whatever good things there are about my job, it's a job with a 4-4 load which includes 2 composition classes each semester.* I have absolutely no passion for teaching composition, and what passion I have for teaching literature is sapped both by teaching composition and by the sheer amount of teaching that I do.
- Socially, this is a very hard place for a single person to live. People my age in this location are married. Shit, people 10 years younger than me in this location are married. I feel like a freak. At nearly-32, I should not feel like a freak and like I'll be barren at any second, and intellectually I know this, but emotionally it's hard to remember.
- While I feel appreciated at this job, I don't feel like real value is ascribed to some of the activities that are most important to me.
- There is no reason for me to stay here. No reason for me to leave, but no reason for me to stay.
- I am ambitious. I believe that I could do better. I'm not saying that I am so awesome or anything, or that there wouldn't be trade-offs, but ambition tends to make one a bit restless, tends to make it tough to settle for the "ok" thing when the "great" thing might be around the corner if you try.
- I don't like when people judge me negatively based on my institutional affiliation. I don't like when people pity me because of my institutional affiliation.
- As much as I like the kind of students I teach and believe that teaching them is really important work, I also wish, sometimes, that the level of preparedness of my students was just a little, teeny bit higher. I'd like to teach students who have read an entire novel at least once in their lives before they find their way into my class.
So, now that I've listed all of my reasons, for and against, you may still think that I should fuck off and be happy with what I've got. Or you may think that this is the "problem" with kids coming out of grad school today, that we don't commit to a job and an institution for the long haul, that we're always looking for something better. Or you may think that the "negatives" or reasons for wanting to go on the market are bunk. But you know, it irks me that people only grant legitimacy to the decision to go on the market if candidates are in some way miserable (unemployed, away from spouse/family, in horrible location, at horrible institution). Maybe complete misery shouldn't be the only thing that drives us to make changes in our lives or situations.
*I realize that with the new Administrative Gig I'll have just one writing class a semester and a 3-3 load, but I'll also have to do the Administrative Gig, right? And what I'd really like more would be a lesser load without an added administrative responsibility. I'd like the lesser load to equate to a heavier commitment to research, which isn't really what I'm signing on for with the Administrative Gig.