Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Having a Life While Academic

I was reading Profgrrl's blog today, and she had a post about fears, as a professor, related to colleagues discovering that she blogs. While some of those fears were related to having colleagues find out certain personal things in her life that might get in the way of tenure, etc., something else she mentioned resonated with me: the fear that they might judge her as not using her time well.

While we all know that I am the Queen of Procrastination (West), I have very defined anxieties about having professors (usually my supervisor, or ones who are teaching me at the moment) discover that I have a life away from school. That school is not my top priority, even. (At best, I'd place it at #3, after God and family+Chris.) Because I have chosen a life that has no set time limits, I tend to feel guilty when I am not directly working on anything school-related. When I have an impending deadline, I fear running into the professor directly responsible, during the days before that, while I am doing anything not related to that assignment. Walking through the university, sitting in the library -- this is okay. But talking to friends? At my mother's choir concert? I panic.

I thought twice about mentioning to Dr. B that I'm babysitting, when I e-mailed him last night. I then realised that I couldn't avoid mentioning it, because it is an important consideration in my life, and I did have to check first to make sure that I could get away on Thursday at noon for a meeting. It's not like I can be doing anything until I meet with him anyway. Why should I be feeling guilty?

That guilt provides too much of a temptation for me to deny my humanity, while I'm in an academic environment. (It must be mentioned that my department is quite traditional in its ways, and so professionalism is really really really emphasised.) I need to find the balance where I am professional, and yet not a robot. Where I achieve everything that I need and am an effective member of the department, but not to the detriment of myself or my loved ones. For example, I've had to learn that it's okay to allow myself some breathing space when I'm in mourning.

I originally embraced academia because it offered a more flexible lifestyle than any 9-5 office job. Now, however, I need to learn how to negotiate the negative side of this flexibility.


Chris Reed said...

It's okay to have a life and it is necessary that those you work with understand that somethings in that life have priority over your work. If you don't you will find yourself having your life filled with work and those other things will be pushed to the side. Most people will respect your right to having a life so long as you do not neglect your work.

LynnieC said...

Hey, tell Dr B goodbye and have a good trip for me. He's so precious. I wonder if they'll take the same train through Aachen that we did.
BOOOOOOOOOOO. I miss Europe.
Oh my gosh, in the next episode of ER Noah Wiley and his gal pal go to Parc Monceau!!!!!!!!! I was so excited.