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Expectations Versus Reality

Expectations versus reality

Browsing through my archives, I came across some of my hopes and expectations I had 10 years ago about my faculty position. My ideal at that time was to spend 4 days a week on teaching and research, and send 1 day a week on teaching other professors how to set up their blog, organize TEDx events, improving the university website and Twitter, organize workshops for professors on how to use social media for research, teach academic writing workshops, and advise students on how to apply to graduate school abroad. In a way, I wanted to take my extracurricular activities from during my PhD up a notch, and officially get the time and space to do so.

Looking back, this expectation did not come true. I work 5 days a week on teaching and research, and more hours than I would like. However, I still have my blog and all that, and occasionally teach workshops at other universities (but not at my own, oddly enough). I also do a lot of informal advising for students who want to apply to graduate school abroad – but I don’t think I get any recognition for it. It just flows naturally from my conversations with my students.

Taking this idea one step further, I come to a description of what my ideal work life would be like (or at least, what it looked like to me in 2012):

I’d be working on projects in bursts of enthusiasm. For example, I would set aside 4/5 months to fully focus on a chunk of research and write a report and a paper about it. Then, I would go and spend a month or two to write music and live towards a concert or a recording. Then, I would disappear for two months to go and write a fiction book or a set of poems. Next, I would venture out and spend two weeks on a volunteering project – setting up a school somewhere in a remote area. That’s pretty much the life I would love to lead if I’d have the financial possibilities to do so.

Besides the fact that I want to laugh at 2012 who thought she’d be writing a book in two months, I still recognize the longing to do different things, and to escape from research at times. Perhaps, I need to bring back a bit of this idea of working on projects sequentially instead of trying to do all my hobbies at the same time. I wouldn’t want to disappear from my family for months on end (I miss my daughter during the day when she is at school), but if I could afford it, I would not work full-time in academia, and instead have time to spend for a while on other projects. Under my current financial situation, though, it may be good to think how I can rekindle some of my 2012 idealism.

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