Scene: In mid to late December, in a nearly deserted building on a nearly deserted campus (finals over, grades in), a young assistant professor and a department chair pass in the hallway. Chair asks something generic along the lines of “How’s it going?”. Young assistant professor replies “I’m hanging in there.” Chair gives the young assistant professor a quizzical look, but decides to let it pass. Young assistant professor suddenly realizes that “hanging in there” was not the standard acceptable response in that situation. She contemplates a moment more and decides that it really does encapsulate how she feels at the moment, so it was an honest answer. Further contemplation reveals that young assistant professor does not want to be perpetually “hanging in there.”

Hence the theme (ala profgrrrl) for 2008: Seeking Strategies for Survival, Sanity, and Success. Sure, I got a little carried away with alliteration, but I think all of the elements belong. I need to figure out ways (strategies) to make this life more livable and more enjoyable, and I’m probably going to need to try different things and get help (seeking) as the year goes on, using the wisdom of my wonderful blog readers and drawing on all the support networks I have. The first priority is to survive, and not end up ill or otherwise unable to work or mother. That may sound dramatic, but there have been times over the last few months where I haven’t been particularly functional. After survival is ensured, the next priority is to keep my sanity. This means not constantly martyring myself or beating myself up because I can’t do everything. It also means reminding myself that I need to acknowledge my own needs and actually take the time/energy to do something about them. If I manage survival and sanity, I need to step back and look at the long term (success) where merely being able to go through the motions is not enough, and where I need to re-find creativity and joy in my work and life.


  1. #1 Rob Knop
    January 3, 2008

    Academia… where it takes a metaphorical kick to the head to realize that just perhaps you aren’t supposed to be miserable all the time on the altar of achievement.

    (Just be careful who you let this on to, because, well, you know, all that joy stuff can be taken as evidence from those who judge you that you aren’t serious enough.)

  2. #2 Carrie
    January 3, 2008

    Minnow is getting bigger and less dependent (I know, that’s sad too in some ways) by the day. As this happens, your sanity & survival will get much better — you can include her on things that make YOU happy (hikes in the woods, day trips, etc) and you all win. It also gets you out of your job for bits of time — which is also important.

    Again, the first year of each of my kids’ lives was really, really hard (especially in hindsight). Both professionally and personally. I don’t think you’ll be ‘hanging in there’ permanently — I think you probably are the cusp of really ‘living’ again very soon.

    And we’re here to help!

  3. #3 PhysioProf
    January 5, 2008

    “[A]ll that joy stuff can be taken as evidence from those who judge you that you aren’t serious enough.”

    This is totally false. A joyful demeanor is taken by those who judge you as evidence that you are confident, comfortable, and successful in your professional pursuits.

  4. #4 Stijn Oomes
    January 11, 2008

    I have learned some valuable lessons to keep me sane from David Allen and his Getting Things Done method. A good introduction is to watch a talk he gave at Google available via

    Keep breathing!

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