What Does It Mean to Be a Successful Academic? And How Not to Suck at Achieving It One of the most common conversations among junior faculty, postdocs, and graduate students revolves around the que…
Responding to this post comes from the position of someone who defines success as:
“Ultimately, the goal is [being able ] to indirectly influence future professionals and improve the outcomes for many more children than I could ever help by myself. That is success as an academic for me.”
As a scholar who came to the classroom after practicing in the field, he positions himself as someone who made an ethical-professional choice. It is unique to find positions that appreciate a scholar’s applied practice to the work. While I am fairly younger in my career trajectory (first year teaching after 3 years in other jobs), the application humanizes the teaching experience. Also, as much as the strain of post-election stress grows frustrating, as I told my therapist before I moved to this new job, this is the fight I chose. It is never clear whether or not, as a teacher, we can indirectly improve outcomes for marginalized individuals. Saying we do our best comes off as self-righteous, the selfishness behind our work, as this blogger explains, needs to start from self-care and acknowledging a willingness to do the work.
As a woman of color, willingness to do the work is tricky. Tricky because of the extensive emotional labor often expected of us, regardless of discipline. Tricky because of personalizing a sense of responsibility because of empathy and working through recovering from or paying forward the interactions we had with educators and mentors.
Transitioning into academic climate from the subject position of a mixed-class worker, my brain needs to slow down to just breathe. Early in my career, the daily hustles of the past are still in my system, pushing me to do more. I pulled on the ‘no’ button, I tell my student, because I need to do what I’m expected to do well. There’s work I (need to) do because it feeds my soul. And, like I was telling colleagues, I am finally in the position to have a social life…I have time because I’m working 5 instead of 6 days a week. I have to force myself to enjoy the success of being in a full-time teaching job. Not because I don’t want more, but because given everything I had done to get here, I want to keep telling my students and myself, ‘I love my job; I love my life and I am grateful to live the dream.’