Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Neddin' some advice...

Here's the deal. I love what I do- most of the time. I hear that it's fairly normal for people to dislike certain aspects of their job, so I assume I am "playing the game" just fine. It is currently that time of year when Scott and I receive job advertisements from around the country. We have discussed this "plan" to move wherever the first tenure track job is, whoever gets it first. Every time I see that a job is open for which I can apply, my heart sinks and I begin to get very nervous. In my head, I go through the list of everything I'll need (cover letter, current CV, at least 3 letters of recommendation- better contact those people who said they'd write one for me and hope they don't get annoyed by how many jobs I apply for this year, make copies of recent performances, make copies of programs, think of new and amazing ways to talk myself and my paltry professional experiences up, etc.). I feel anxiety every time I sit down at the computer, knowing that I SHOULD be working on those applications- but I'd much rather______.

Eventually I'll get my application butt in gear and send things off. Then we wait. Sometimes I try to pretend that I win a job just to see how that makes me feel. I often end up feeling sad. No more Monday Night Dinners, no more trips to Connecticut, no more family gatherings on a wim, no more drafty old house in a beautiful neighborhood, no more familiarity. And who gets the job? If I get it, what does Scott do? If it's Scott's to win, what do I do? I know, I know...I shouldn't even play the "what if" game unless we are even presented with a job offer. But there are other what ifs that are more nagging- what if we never get a job? Now I've wasted all this time and energy on stupid applications when I could have been __________. What if we get a job and wish we'd stayed where we were? What if I/we either never get a job or decide not to apply anymore and later in life, I/we wish that I/we had pushed myself/ourselves a little more? (Sheesh! It's hard talking about me and Scott at the same time!) What if I could be doing more than I currently am (a stack of papers needing to be graded are certainly telling me that there is more I could be doing right now, but that's not really what I mean...)?

I really don't know what to do about this job dilemma anymore. I hate my drive, but I like what I do, and at least I have a job/jobs in my field. I like my students for the most part, but find myself complaining more and more about the quality of students that end up in higher education (but that's an entirely different blog!). I don't have tenure bullshit to deal with, which means I am free to do however much or little in the way of professional development as I want! I guess the succinct point in my quest for advice from y'all is: I feel stuck, professionally. Now what?! Am I expecting too much and should just shut my trap and get on with life? Should I listen to my gut and not apply for the handful of jobs in this country for which I am qualified?! (As I wait for responses, I will get back to grading...I promise.)


Strangela said...

Here are a few thoughts and some of the things that we talk about when this issue comes up…

I don’t want to say I didn’t do something because I was too scared, it is perfectly acceptable to say I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to. If you don’t want to do something, don’t let people pressure you into thinking your wrong!! Moving out of Michigan was scary and hard but I WANTED too. I would not go back and change a thing despite how scared out of my mind I was!

Also, I don’t think it has to be an all or nothing thing. – “do I apply for jobs or don’t I”? can’t you apply for the jobs that interest you instead of all the jobs that you are qualified for? I have told Josh that he can not apply for jobs in the middle of nowhere Idaho where he is the saxophone, theory and music ed teacher When he applied for a job in North Carolina in a cool town where I could get a job, it was saxophone only and my parents are spending winters in South Carolina then that was worth pursuing.

Hmm, I guess that covers it without rambling too much!!

sdb said...

Here, here! to what strangela says above. I think if you are lucky, you enjoy your job more than you hate it. But it is a job, so you probably aren't going to love every aspect of it. Thankfully, there is life outside of the "office" filled with great things like family, trips and dinners.

Apply for only jobs that you would really consider when they are offered. There are too many variables to go over every detail. But I think just like most big decisions, you have to go with your gut sometimes. If you aren't sure of the outcome, that's okay. But are you happy with where you are, or do you need a new challenge?

Steph said...

Hey Tess,

You and I have had so many conversations about this very issue that I don't know if I have much new to offer, other than sympathy and commiseration. It is kind of revealing to me that at the very end of your post you wrote "listen to my gut and not apply." If your gut is really saying don't apply...yeeks, it's kind of hard to ignore a gut.

I remember, when I was trying to decide whether to get a DMA and keep pursuing a performance career, asking myself how I would feel if I decided not to do it. And the biggest emotion coming at me then was relief. I listened to the relief, which as you know I haven't regretted. Of course, that may not be very helpful since your emotions about applying vs. not applying may be more nebulous than mine were on that particular question. I think strangela is right that you shouldn't bother applying for jobs that you really don't want. Definitely don't apply for a job located somewhere you'd rather croak than move to--just don't put yourself through that, for heaven's sake. Unless, of course, that place is anywhere within a 200 mile radius of Lawrence, Kansas. Then you must. I will coerce you.

It goes without saying, of course, but this half-assed advice about guts is given with the full confidence that you would be a fantastic asset to any institution to which you applied. That, in my mind, is NOT at issue. But your happiness, and Scott's, is always the most important thing on the table.

Love, Steph