On Being an Academic

teacherJust reflecting….I embarked on this career with only my mom as a role model. She left the research university and spent the bulk of her career at a community college while she also became a social work entrepreneur of sorts. No one really talks about what it truly takes to be a successful academic.  I find myself in a mid-career crisis of sorts. I think I don’t have what it takes. And I’m not really sure that at this point in my career I really want to get with the program (boy am I in trouble now!). I’m not looking for reassurance (because I know some of my friends will begin to quickly provide it) I am just reflecting and venting a bit…Here’s what I think it takes, feel free to agree or disagree and add to the list:

  1. TIME
  2. A good memory – where do I have to be today? which committee work is due? what student is coming to meet me? my students’ names. where did I leave off on the last lecture?
  3. The ability to multitask – I teach 4 classes, sit on who knows how many committees, I serve on a few community organizations, I have a child & a husband, I like to see my friends from time to time, I have an aging mom with needs, … which brings me back to
  4. TIME
  5. Excellent (or definitely way above average) writing skills – my skills are average and someone must always edit my work!
  6. Related to #5 – ability and willingness to engage in research and/or publish, which requires…
  7. TIME
  8. Pretty good public speaking skills
  9. The ability to entertain, especially if you teach traditional aged undergraduates at 8 a.m.!
  10. Critical listening/understanding skills – trying to decipher what sounds like a question about the reading or lecture, but not 100% sure if that was a question…
  11. Willingness to tolerate and work within sometimes ambiguous situations – the beauty of the academy is that it is constantly changing
  12. Willingness to tolerate and work within sometimes less than desirable conditions – mold/dust/heat/cold
  13. If you work at a public institution – the willingness to live modestly

The perks are many – I’m about to have a 4-5 week winter break! During which I should: (a) spend time with my little one & hubby; (b) visit my momma; (c) prep for spring classes; (d) clean the messes I’ve made at home and in office throughout this semester; (e) edit some overdue writing; (f) maybe catch up on some overdue rest….TIME!!!

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