Sunday, February 20, 2011

Job Talking, sort of

I HOPE to finish my PhD next year--Spring of next year, to be exact. So, I am thinking about the job market. And in that thought process, I am HOPING that I will get places I want to work. And all of this means thinking about job talks. Just the sheer term irritates me. I mean, if you are giving or listening to a "job talk," you are a scholar and have made it to a place that such a small fraction of the population reaches, educationally speaking, and the term for this stressful, life-altering event it "job talk." Anyway, it worries me and I am already stressing out about those 7 letters of a term that could potentially alter my life in great ways.

Part of my issue with anything school/work related is that it sets my schizophrenia in motion. No, I don't think I have THAT bad of a disorder. I, personally, always feel like one person--a culmination of the individual who wears all of the hats that I wear. But in so many situations, I feel like I am forced to just take on one of those roles. To me, that's a lie. I'm not JUST a student or teacher or military wife or mom (though I wouldn't mind "just" being a mom--that's my primary role, I believe, and it is so awesome I could eat it up, but I digress). I am ALL of these things combined. And I think that's what makes me me. So, why do I spend so much effort trying to fit into just one of these categories? Why must I spend a job talk just talking about my school/work life? I, personally, think that being all of the things that make me who I am makes me that much more impressive of a candidate. No, I don't always handle things "gracefully" or without minor breakdowns, but I do think that sometimes I deserve a pat on the back for doing all that I have done and continue to do and will do in the future with all that's on my plate. I don't want pity--I don't need praise. I have chosen each of my duties because it's what I want to do--and without any portion of that I would lose a certain part of myself. So, I think just the mere recognition is what I would like. Since I likely won't get that, as the world of academia does not really fit with such a plan, I will give the beginning of my job talk (a year or more in advance) that I will never be able to share, but want to so bad, right here...

My name is Beth, but I will answer to "mom." I [am hoping to very soon] have received my PhD from the University of Tennessee. But, that's not really as big of a deal as my amazing daughter. She is MY teacher and she makes my world spin. So, I will be absent from this position any time she needs me to be. I also have two dogs [hopefully Sampson will still be around during this process] who call me mom. I will often be covered in dog hair--please excuse the mess. I am married to a Marine. The Marine Corps has largely dictated my life for nearly a decade. I have lived in 5 states, only moving out of my hometown once I married into the Marine Corps. I will be absent should husband leave and come home from another part of the world. I have been teaching for over 5 years now and I love that experience--it is the most rewarding job I have had outside of my family. You may be wondering about my research, and I will get to that in a minute, but before I do, I want you to know that, in the midst of this teaching and researching, I have done many other things. I have given birth. I have been a single mom while I sent my husband away to fight a war and perform other services to our country and others. I have spent nights in the ER--human and dog--with a sick kid. I have kissed boo-boos all better. I have given home health care to a dog. I run a household pretty much on my own. I have bought and sold houses, also largely on my own or with the help of a power of attorney. I have worked--sometimes two jobs at a time--to get to where I am in my educational journey. My husband loves something else as much as he loves me--service to his country. I don't get jealous; I try to take it in stride; but sometimes I cry. I didn't think I could make it to this place in my life, giving this job talk in front of you all, and I had obstacles. Without the support of my family, I wouldn't be here today. So, as you listen to the summary of a dissertation that took me years to finish, please know that this is not what defines me. It is a part of the larger puzzle which is Beth.

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