As I sit, staring at the phone, wondering if I will receive The Call from a prep school I visited recenlty, I've had to wrestle (again!) with the prospect of giving up on my dreams. It is not my dream to teach in a prep school, and it never has been. But at the same time, it is not (and has never been) my dream to teach at a third-tier public uni, with a low salary and no money for research.
Now I know that very few people in the world have their dream jobs. As a group, lawyers are an unhappy crowd, and Lord knows my mother never said to herself, "I want to spend twenty-five years administering unincorporated areas of Tuscon!" And my wife has no earthly idea what she wants to do. The problem is that I am lucky enough to know what I want (to teach at a small college), but unlucky enough not to be able to do it.
I think that the hardest part about taking an offer is that as soon as I do, that dream - one which I have held on to for a quarter of my life - is gone.
I also worry that my reluctance to let go of the dream could warp my ability to see prep school jobs for what they are. Am I foolish enough to turn down a good position ("It's not the right fit.") in order to avoid letting go of the dream? That, it seems to me, would be the height of folly.
So let me ask you - how do you balance your lofty dreams and the crushing reality of the academic market?