I have been invited to interview for a full-time teaching position for next year. It is a one-year contract position, which will require me to teach a 5-course load over two semesters. If I think I am busy and a little bit crazy now, I have no doubt that if I get this job, I am really going to have to work hard to stay on top of things, especially since I will be teaching 5 courses that I have never taught before and coming up with new lectures for each course, each week. Funny thing about that is how hard I am already working as I write this.
Funny thing about this job? I want it just as much as I don't want it. I want it because getting it means that a group of my colleagues hand-selected silly little me to do the stuff that I am pretty darn good at doing. For me, it basically means that I get to be a more endowed member of the monolithic "club" that I have been chipping away at in small pieces for so many years. In the greater scheme of things, I want the job because it will lead me to the next job, which will be the big one that will more or less put my "career" in a more advanced realm of orbit. Ultimately, for better or for worse, getting this job will secure a great deal for me that is currently insecure about my professional future as I write this.
Getting this job will also mean that I will, for the first time in my life, earn a grown-up salary, which sounds nice from this side of the lawn...
...But, to be perfectly frank...if I don't get this job, not getting it will mean that I wasn't chosen to be in the club by my peers, and that will suck. I also know that I will really have to hustle to figure out what to do. If I don't get this or the postdoc fellowship I applied for, then I am really going to be in a pickle...
While getting this job is good for all of the right reasons, it also means that my professional life will continue to soar while my personal life was pronounced Dead On Arrival somewhere back in January. Unfortunately, this job will require me to stay where I am at the moment, in this remote, solitary, absolutely empty New England town in the middle of bloody nowhere. I am only now just emerging from the coldest, darkest winter of my life, and it pains me to think of an encore performance. Every day is yet another reminder that I am far from friends and family, that there isn't an airport, a shopping mall or even a proper alternative foods store for miles. And please don't get me started on the lack of coffee shops, book stores and yoga studios. As it is, the work that I do requires countless hours of being alone, which I love...but too much "alone" is so no bueno. For me, too much alone time can be painful. (I love myself just about as much as I nauseate myself.) I find that there are much more pleasurable ways to spend the day than gazing misguidedly at my own navel.
Unfortunately, I am alone. Completely alone. And there does not appear to be an end in sight at the moment. (And believe me, I am an opportunity maker--I have looked around. Even the pickings for potential friendships are tragic, let alone potential romantic interests.)
So, the interview process begins this week. And yes, I do want the job for all of the right reasons. And I do not want the job for all of the right reasons, too. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, my work is not going to have dinner waiting at home for me, go running with me, or greet me with a warm hug and a smile. It is not going to make me laugh out loud or hold my hand. It is not going to keep me warm in bed, join me for brunch on a Saturday, read the paper out loud to me to get me to predictably shout obscenities at the injustice in the world, or even make me a more loving and centered person because of it. My work is not going to notice when I need my shoulders rubbed, or that I just want to have a picnic on the floor, or that I really need to go somewhere quiet, romantic or totally insane for the weekend. My work is not going to be my life because I am determined not to let it be the only thing that walks through life with me.
On one hand, I want the job to prove that everything I have worked for and sacrificed so much to achieve thus far has not been in vain. On the other hand, I am worried that getting the job is yet another affirmation of even more personal sacrifice. Another year in a school of my dreams, yet in a place so remote that even the ones I love most in the world refuse to even consider a visit. And then what?
In the end, it is an interesting paradox, I guess. I feel like the winner who always seems to register another loss each time my number gets called to collect the accolades. Does solid career success matter if the rest of me somehow manages to cover up the fact that I'm really just a shell of myself at the moment? Maybe, for all my bravado of wanting to strike my own path and avoid the cooptation of what others consider more "normal" life choices, I am just implicitly trapped on my own hamster wheel design, where, in the end, all I will have for my years and years of hustle...is...an assortment of Craig's list-acquired furniture...and...exhaustion.
Wish me luck. I need it. Hell, wish me luck with everything. (I need that, too.)