Sunday, August 19, 2012

On fairweather friends

The issue keeps coming up a few times as I weave my way around and through and in the blogosphere - how to manage relatonships as you move out of the academic life for the great unknown of world beyond the campus.  I mean relationships with people you may have bonded with over endless coffees and bitch-sessions about the trials of your graduate years and other people who have been a key part of your lifestyle for such a long time you barely remember how you met, but just know, that you are firm friends.

A few bloggers have wondered in print, how to "break the news" that you are moving on, and some people have noted how hard it is for some of those people in your life find it impossible to really accept the fact that you are indeed leaving. I would also like to note that in this period of transition, when you are questioning everything that you thought you knew, you are going to realise that perhaps a few of your friends are not really that friendly any more.

These are the people who might otherwise be referred to as "fairweather" friends; that is, they're happy to hang out when the going's good, when you're happy and fun to be around, but that haven't learnt the finer details of how to really be your friend when the rough patches occur. Something as radical as changing your entire life course (ie being an academic) and re-evaluating your goals in your quest for gainful employment outside of academia is quite possibly going to bring some uncomfortable tests of the strength of the friendships you have.

As you learn more about yourself in the process of finding out what else you can do, there are going to be moments when you thnk: "Oh, I never realised that ... is not making me happy." And, since you're on this path of radical transformation, this thought might be followed by "And that's going to change right now".  If this happens to be a person that is not making you happy, it's hard to make the necessary transformations. Afterall, you have a history together, you know each other well. Your lives may be quite intertwined.

You won't regret it though. If you really can't remember the last time someone helped you out when you needed it, then perhaps they are a fairweather friend. And maybe you're fine with that, and maybe you can leave the relationship in that way - as someone to have fun with when you're in the mood.  The trick is to find that right balance, so that you do have a level of reciprocity that you are happy with. Don't be afraid to make changes if you need to. It's your life - why replace academic guilt with another kind? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another reason why work is better than adjuncting

Paid holidays are great!

You have enough money to pay for a trip, you have enough money to spend while you are away, and if you go a little over budget, chances are, you will be able to pay it off quite soon.

What can be so bad about that?

Oh, I know, coming back to work totally sucks. But whatevs. You will notice that the building hasn't burnt down, your colleagues are still the same, and that you really didn't miss much while you were out. Depending on your level of seniority, you may have a shite-load of emails to catch-up on, or your projects may have been devolved to someone else, but hey, you don't get paid enough to care. It's not as if YOUR ENTIRE CAREER depends on someone else doing what you thought you would be doing.

You will notice that something needed doing, it got done, and nobody cared that you weren't there to do it. Instead of sticking knives into you while you were out, they simply used your seat to store supplies on.

So, yes, I can get used to this.

Meanwhile, while you are actually on holidays - you don't have to think about work. How refreshing. You don't have to take work with you. You don't have to try and find an internet cafe to finish doing something by some impossible deadline. You don't even have to check your email. Let's face it, if anything truly important happens on the home front, the people who matter will find a way to get news to you. The people who pay you, on the other hand, probably won't even know where you've gone.


I really needed that break. It was just at the right time to give me a moment to recover from being out of work, finding a new job, getting used to a new job, getting over my career failure and just generally taking stock of where I am at now. It was also the perfect holiday to help me realise that the issues I have had in my new job are actually a function of the office and the people in it, and not me. I kind of knew that already, I have to say, but being new, I was inclined to give the benefit of doubt. But no, it's not me. That much I can tell you for sure.