By Lisa Meloncon 23 September 2017
So I tweeted out a mini-thread this week:
It’s been a helluva a few months for all sorts of reasons and over the last few days, I have finally felt like I’m not drowning in work. Well, the work hasn’t gone away, and I’ve still missed deadlines and failed to keep people informed among a host of other things. But the difference has been that in the last few days I finally admitted I just had to do a reboot.
That’s a hard place to be professionally (and even personally) because it opens you up to all sorts of frailties and vulnerabilities. For me, particularly in this space, I have often opted not to use myself as any sort of example (except for research methodology 🙂 simply because I know that I have a unique way of approaching the world.
However, in this case, it means walking the walk and opening up to all of you that, yes, my life, too, falls apart. In that regard, I am no way unique at all. And in the midst of all the pieces of life raining down around me, the mundane details of life still go on. I have still managed to do some things, but it takes so much effort, and often, I feel drained after a few tasks. Larger, more ambiguous tasks with fluid deadlines, have languished. My own research has stalled. I’m working on 15 minutes at a time and trying to go back to the basics of being kind to myself.
I’m ok with that on one hand. On the other hand, though, it’s so freaking hard because of my own self-imposed expectations, but more so because of the expectations of higher education. As a recent post on Hook and Eye pointed out, we are often not allowed to be our whole selves in our academic jobs.
In other words, the academic culture is such that we are only supposed to be academics, dedicated to the job without any bodies or families or outside lives. We (the academic collective) are unfortunately, through actions showing young scholars that the dedication to the job is the only thing that matters. And it’s not. Of course, one of our goals at #womeninTC has always been to show that our academic jobs are only part of who we are.
When I tweeted that I rebooting EVERYTHING. I wasn’t kidding. Both professionally and personally, I am facing challenges. And here’s the thing we don’t ever talk about. This is common. It is more ordinary than extraordinary. Because we are human.
So I’m talking about the struggles and the problems to encourage all of us—particularly those of us in our little writing studies world—to not only talk about being human and the problems (and triumphs). But more so, it’s because we have to set a different tone. We have to start trying to shift what is a powerfully unjust culture and system that encourages us to be one dimensional and focused on the culture of overproduction rather than encouraging us to be real, three-dimensional people committed to slow scholarship and being excellent, thoughtful teachers, and kind supportive colleagues.
Across every aspect of life and the world, we are experiencing challenges. In an effort to take control of the things that I can, this is my attempt to start shifting academic cultures, to reboot the academy a little at a time. And maybe help others do the same.
Wishing you health and joy!