Nonetheless, I'm dragging; it's slow going in my mental household today. I'd greatly prefer to put my head down on the desk or slip back under the covers until tomorrow. When you're as far behind the professional/financial eight ball as I am, what motivation is there to keep plugging away day after day during a lingering recession? What good will all this unpaid labor really do me in the end? I've got all these academic articles in progress, for example, but hardly any relevant jobs to apply for. Am I losing the motivation necessary to press on in the face of obstacles? Oh, woe is me, right?
|Goya, The Dream of Reason Brings Forth Monsters|
On days like this I tend to smack myself, consume copious amounts of caffeine, or take a short break until my brain clears itself of what I like to call the job-hunter's funk, or simply, the funk. When you're a Ph.D. perpetually on the prowl for academic and non-academic employment opportunities, simultaneously trying to maintain an active research agenda on the one hand and experiment with new career paths on the other, feeling the funk is inevitable. There are days when you will feel like a big old lumpy useless undesirable BLOB, or like a tragic character in a Dicken's novel. Being stretched too thin, both personally and professionally, has its consequences; hence the overall funkiness of my day today-and not in a good way.
But I know I'm not the only one. One glance at the virtual world reveals plenty of depressed, exhausted, or apathetic A.B.D.s and Ph.Ds. looking for their next score, be it a job or a fellowship or a grant.
"I had just hoped for a less-exhausting job search season this year," writes someone by the name "minira" in a CHE forum thread. "But even narrowing the parameters of my search from last year's 'hit everything that moves' strategy, there are about a dozen jobs and postdocs I could and maybe should apply to. I'm just having trouble getting excited about any of them, and the thought of picking up and moving AGAIN next year makes me desperately unhappy." Minira is, of course, only one of many disgruntled voices out there. "The thought of going through the application cycle and moving again is exhausting," concludes another like-minded respondent.
Let's face it: we're all bone tired of submitting applications, waiting and waiting, and then, if we're fortunate, moving our crap from place to place in order to remain marginally employed. "Academic life is increasingly made up of a series of applications," bemoans Joseph Grim Feinberg, graduate student in anthropology at the University of Chicago. "Months and years of my life have been taken away, and nothing short of systemic transformation will redeem them."
Feinberg might be talking solely about applying for grants but his first-person piece immediately brought to mind the hundreds of grants, tenure-track jobs, visiting faculty positions, postdoctoral fellowships, and nonacademic jobs I've applied for over the past several years. How many hours--days even--of my life have been wasted on the mind-numbing activity that is preparing job/grant applications? (Not to mention the time spent preparing for and traveling vast distances to preliminary and on-campus interviews.)
If there is one thing I've mastered, it's the ability to coast into mental auto pilot and apply for stuff. All sorts of stuff. I'm great at proposing things, stating my professional qualifications, and asking others for jobs and/or money. But constantly writing applications it's not the most productive way to spend one's time. It's not the most creative or useful activity. It won't help me out of the funk.
So what will? I dunno. Those articles I need to finish don't look too enticing. Neither do those applications I should send out. Ugh. Perhaps more coffee is the only solution . . .