Wednesday, August 25, 2004


My Crazy Semester

This semester, I am teaching four courses. The 4/4 load is a killer, but theoretically my load this semester will be "lighter" because

a. I have only 19 students in my survey course - a course in which I had 35 last fall.
b. I have only 22 in each of my writing classes - and I'm hopeful that I can get both classes down to below 20 by midterm.
c. I have no prep for a or b because I have taught the classes before and was very organized about notes, etc.
d. I have one new prep, but there are only 7 students in the course and it's graduate level.

All of this said, I don't know how to balance this teaching load with

1. service.
2. research.
3. any kind of a social life.

Every year I vow that I will seek balance in my life, that I won't veer off into becoming an academic hermit, but how is that even possible if one wants to do all parts of her job well? And the thing is, I really do care about my teaching, but I love doing research, and with those two things - if I give each 100% - the service and social life fall by the wayside. I'm thinking about all of this because I need to update my tenure book for this year's review; also, I'm thinking about how I will manage if the email of yesterday actually does pan out in a book contract. I don't want to be a workaholic. I don't want to continue sacrificing everything else in the service of the job. At the same time, though, I don't know of anything else that makes me as happy as the job or gives me the satisfaction that the job gives me.

In some ways, I've been struggling with this since I was an undergraduate, and I think it's related to my tendency to put relationships off to one side as always less important than what's going on in my professional life. But then, I think to myself, if my professional life is what is making me most happy, why shouldn't it be the most important thing? Why shouldn't I focus on it if it gives me the most pleasure and through it I experience the most success? The thing about this career, at least for me, is it really was a lifestyle choice. I can't leave the work stuff at work and just have a regular life aside from that. I know colleagues who do just that, but those who do seem to be kind of crappy scholars. I don't want to be a crappy scholar. If I wanted to just put in my time teaching and go home, I would have become a high school teacher. But if I want a life of the mind with this teaching load, it seems like I've got to sacrifice every other thing in order to have it. I guess I just wonder whether the only solution is to go back on the job market (a terrifying prospect - especially since I actually do like my job and my location) or whether I can come to terms with my fate at Regional Crap University and find some sort of balance.

I always wondered what it was like for workaholics. For me it's the other way around. You said:

"At the same time, though, I don't know of anything else that makes me as happy as the job or gives me the satisfaction that the job gives me."

For me, my hobbies give me the greatest satisfaction, and they're not the kind that become jobs very well.
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