You see, as the very clever Aimée Morrison once put it, I am "between academic positions" at the moment. I am still doing research and writing like crazy, but I'm not teaching, not employed by an academic institution, not part of a research centre - I'm mostly just writing from home and quilting (seriously, there has been SO MUCH quilting...).
|my latest hand sewn quilt top (48" x 60")|
I'm not complaining. Come month's end, I will have 0 essays to grade, and in mid-April I will actually celebrate my birthday rather than frantically read final exams. I'm lucky to have this time away. Its like a sabbatical, only it is a consequence of the precarious labour environment for sessional instructors, rather than a deserved research leave from a great job.
I'm struggling because my life has been defined by the university for a very long time. I went straight into university from high school, straight into a MA from undergrad, straight into a PhD from my MA, and now here I am - out. I haven't actually celebrated my birthday on (or near) my actual birthday for years! I mean, who has time for a birthday in mid-April!?!?
The issue is that grad students are socialized - by institutions, supervisors, and each other - to define themselves by their academic affiliations. There is no world outside of your academic world. If we don't have an institutional prospect in the form of a postdoc or a tenure track position waiting for us post-defense, we panic. I mean, seriously, what am I supposed to write under my name right now?
Danielle J. Deveau, PhD
Amateur Lady Scholar and Quilt-Maker
Really and truly, I'm not complaining. My quilt is looking pretty awesome and I cook all the time. I have sent two articles off for review this term and have a couple more that I am diligently working on and hope to finish by the summer.
I'm getting some good work done.
I'm enjoying myself.
BUT... I do think that as fewer and fewer PhDs leave school and move directly into academic track jobs, we need to have a better strategy in place to bestow some kind of identity that is not grounded in our ability to acquire university letterhead.