Tonight is one of those times when I’ve just had enough of it all. I’m wondering if it is really worth all the energy and struggle. I wonder where any of this is going and if it is so hard, if it is such a struggle, maybe it isn’t meant to be.
On the other hand, a little voice inside reminds me that the easy way is always more appealing. But sometimes I am lost as to the purpose in the path I’ve chosen. Where am I going and why?
I already feel like I’m behind with my work. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite this stretched: commuting 2 hours a day, teaching three courses that are new to me, one that is brand new entirely (my baby but still tough during the first offering), more students that I should have in 2 of my 3 courses and too many assignments even though I know that the only way for them to improve their writing is by writing. My students in my last class today reminded me how important my feedback is – without it they don’t yet see a purpose in their work. I want them to be able to critique their writing but there is so much scaffolding to do at this point in the term. And, lord knows, I don’t like to do things by half measure.
But even after all that I wonder if this is where I’m meant to be. I’m ignoring my own writing. A very old friend of mine reminded me of this a year or so ago. He said, “Cath, why don’t you just write – why are you trying so hard? I think you are just avoiding the writing.” And he’s right to a certain extent. I am avoiding the writing.
Teaching is an energy drain. It’s like being on stage every day – post-secondary students don’t have patience for off-days, although they are quick to forgive your mistakes. When I’ve spent my whole day teaching I end up driving home utterly spent. There is little time left for writing.
But beyond the writing and teaching, I suppose I’m searching for a purpose. I see so much ugliness in academia. People are always trying to prove how smart they are, how “educated” they can be. It is a very me-focused industry. And I don’t know that I’ll ever fit in.
For me, all the academic posturing does not come naturally. I don’t know how to play this game, with constantly shifting rules and undercurrents that pull me along unaware. I don’t know if I want to spend my life feeling like I’ll always be one step behind my colleagues.
On days like today, I want to escape to some imaginary faraway place, where I can sit by a fire and read my books and feel entirely contented whist sipping a bit of tea with milk and honey. A grown-up version of fairy-tale dreams.
Driving home tonight a series of unpleasant memories flashed through my mind. Classroom situations where I was a witness to horrible betrayals. No, that’s not quite accurate. If I’m honest I was more than a witness, I was a participant. During my doctoral studies there were a number of occasions when I was utterly ashamed to be part of academia. We separated ourselves from our humanity in order to become analytical and academic. On two particular occasions, I remember several students brought to tears because of this betrayal. I left those classes feeling despondent and angry. I wanted to get as far away from this dispassionate way of being.
I swore that when I finished my doctoral studies I would teach. Not research. Not profess. But teach and try to make a difference. Somehow I would find a way to focus on helping my students rather than participating in the destructive side of academics.
Now I wonder if that is even possible. And if not, I wonder if I belong here …