Closing a door, without realizing it necessarily

In the midst of all of the end-of-classes and journal deadline and too-many-projects and holiday and general craziness around here, it was almost lost on me that I have inadvertently let a door close this year:

I apparently have decided, by my inaction, not to go on the market this year.

Now of course, it's never too late to do anything, and I suppose if I really wanted to, I could get some job materials together and track down some reccommenders and send out some applications by the first of the year, or at least shortly thereafter. I mean, that would be the smart thing to do, right? After all, tenure is not a sure thing (particularly in my case---I think my chances are better than 50-50, but how much better is up for debate), so I should definitely be looking, so as to possibly avoid any tenure surprises next year, and maybe even to find a place that's a better fit.

But I'm not going to do that. And yes, there is next year for the market. But basically, I am putting all of my eggs in the tenure basket right now.

I have mixed feelings about this. As I mentioned, tenure is not a sure thing. Not at all. And after seeing what happened to my two friends, I feel even less sure about it. And I do (sometimes? often?) feel like a fish out of water at my current institution, and sometimes do think that perhaps I should find somewhere that's a better fit, or at least is a little more humane clueful.

But. I have a limited amount of time and energy, more so now that I have a very active toddler. I have projects and advisees and research students and did I mention that new class prep? I have a lot of things in the writing phase right now that I'm trying to get out ASAP (and would be doing so, even if I wasn't going up for tenure next year---it just so happens that enough of my projects are at the maturity stage that they're ready to go out for review). And the stupid optimistic part of me really wants to try and make things work here and thinks maybe I have a shot at it---and I know that if I was trying to go on the market as well, that it would take away from the stuff I'm doing at my current institution to try and get tenure.

In short, the way I've assessed the situation is that I need X amount of time and energy to get tenure here, and I would need Y amount of time and energy to go on the market, and X + Y > Z, the time I actually have available. In fact, X > Z anyway, which is problematic in its own right.

So the find-a-better-job door has closed, at least for this year. I have accepted that for what it is, and have decided to move forward without regrets. I guess I'll find out at this time next year whether my decision was wise or foolish. But I'm hoping that my decision, no matter what the consequences, will somehow open some other door down the road, whether that door is to the Associate Professor Club or some other unforeseen and as-yet-unimagined possibility.

Happy holidays, everyone! I'll be taking a short break from blogging until probably just after the new year (unless I end up going stir-crazy at my Top Secret Holiday Location). Thank you all so much for reading and contributing to the conversation this past year, and I look forward to many more fruitful, entertaining, and insightful conversations with you in 2009!


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It is remarkable how much effort going on the market can take. I find it a delicate balance between trying to build up successes to be a competitive candidate and waiting too long and missing opportunities.

Not a pleasant problem at all!

Good luck with finding a good solution!