Last week, I was reflecting deeply on who I am and where I want to go. I did not get shortlisted for my dream job. Part of the reason for this is that they had an ample sufficiency of candidates. So many candidates, that they didn’t need to consider someone who had not yet completed their PhD. My concern was, if they had so many candidates, then it is a sign that the market is flooded. This was a position that I was qualified for and well suited for – so I found myself wondering, is academia for me? Do I want to fight for the limited number of faculty positions, especially when the faculty jobs themselves are eroding. They aren’t the same jobs they were 10 years ago. And frankly, this isn’t my first career. I don’t have the energy nor the desire to climb the ladder from the bottom rung.
So, I was also looking at consulting, and looking at careers at large high-tech companies. I’m in silicon valley after all – there are 10-20 new instructional design jobs posted every few days.
Then came breast cancer – and with it a chance to reset – but also a lot of deep reflection – with more deep reflection to come I’m sure. A bit of advice I was given from an academic friend (and please, if you are not a cancer survivor, hold back on the advice) was that one approach is to treat the disease with curiosity. Scott and I had already decided that we would treat is as a new adventure – the next chapter in our lives.
Curiosity is a trait of an academic. And I realized that I want to approach this problem as an academic. I want to read the literature to figure out what I’m dealing with. I want to write about my reflections throughout the process. I want to look at how I might use my reflections and this process as research – can I do an auto-ethnographic account of my experiences as a breast cancer patient? It was then that I realized, I am an academic. I want to approach my experiences in the world through the lens of a scholar – not through the lens of a practitioner.
I am now thinking, that once all the unimportant stuff in my life gets peeled away, the essence of who I am will rise to the surface. That has started now, and I expect that as the weeks progress I will find out more interesting things about who I am.