While most of the time I am too busy working to give much thought to my former academic self, when I am not working, I am busy wondering how much more effort I should put into continuing down the academic path. That is, is this non-academic thing a transitory phase to pay the rent, or is it a permament transition that represents a new direction in my career?
Forgive me if I sound like a broken record. I guess I am still struggling with the transformation.
In earlier weeks I had my up and down experiences at my new job, but on the whole, it is in fact quite decent, not too onerous and relentlessly social. I am enjoying the pay cheque, the learning curve and the fact that I have my free time to myself. I am also enjoying the collaborative aspect and the fact that there is always someone to talk to. Unlike my time in academia, where I was always by myself and only ever talked to other human beings in class, consultation times, meetings or conferences, I find myself yakking to a wide-range of people throughout the day. It's a nice change.
So in short, it would be quite easy to barrel along this new path in life and find out what new career goals develop.
I am still wondering whether I want to keep pursuing the academic work. I like to torture myself occaisionally by looking up people I know from academic circles and seeing where they're at these days. Does the fact that many of my past colleagues have been eeking out their career goals mean that I have given up too soon? Or should I just stop googling and focus on my own affairs?
What does my research into the business of others signify about my true heart's desire? Am I just morbidly curious, or am I jealous that they have the role that I can't get? I also find myself speculating: Would I have taken that job if it had been offered to me? What sacrifices would it have meant for them? How would I have felt about making those sacrifices? Are they happy? Would I be?
Arhg. Usually I finally manage to snap out of it and remind myself of all the reasons that my life has gone in a different direction and get back to what I was supposed to be doing. But then I am sstill left feeling: should I continue to keep a foot in the door, as it were, and find the time to keep working on academic things? Or do I just want to cut my losses and have my time to myself?
I am finding that it is really difficult to make a complete break from academic life. So many of my friends are academics, and so much of my identity has been invested in being an academic for so long. It feels both exhilarating and depressing to move away from academic life at the same time. On the one hand, all those years spent studying and a promising career brought to an end. On the other hand, a life lived and lessons learnt, skills earned and a whole world ahead.
The question I really can't answer is: will I try to hold on to a much longed-for career, or will I open my eyes to the opportunities that lie outside academia? I keep vacillating betwen the two. If only there were some way to make the decision easier. I think I once thought that the pay cheque would be the deciding factor, but now I realise it isn't. What is the deciding factor?