Thursday, June 28, 2012

On being a misfit

Last night, I had that dream again.  It was the first day of classes, and I had no syllabi prepared.  The class was huge (and, as usual, in a weirdly shaped room...maybe going around a corner again?  not sure).  Students began to walk out in the middle of class.

It's the professorial version of showing up to school naked.

I still wonder if I belong in the front of that classroom, even after many years and moderate success there.  I wonder about scholarship even more.  Academic life has always felt a bit...out of reach?  ill-fitting?  I recall when I was a senior in college and got a letter inviting me to go to an informational session on applying for Rhodes and other scholarships.  I had to ask someone what those were.  I never did go to the event, or apply.  I'm still baffled and overwhelmed by grant writing. 

And yet, here I am, loving the pedagogical and historiographical writing that I am doing this summer, and looking forward to the archives next spring.  Plus, I no longer have the ability to "go back" to how I grew up, to fit into my blue-collar roots.  Maybe, I think, because I never did fit in there. 

And so I continue to live betwixt and between, in this and so many other ways.

1 comment:

  1. I have always thought about that phrase which states "on your death bed you never really say 'I wish I had spent more time working'". This is to inherently assume that there are other pursuits that one should have gone after.

    I think it more along on the lines of, will you say "I wish I had spent more time working on something I really enjoyed"?

    I do think that the work that we do defines us as much as any other aspects of our lives.

    I believe there are a great number of things you love (and, of course, do not love) about your current career. For each of those "naked" moments, there is a time when I hear you talk about how a student really excelled after struggling, or students who still stay in touch with you. The scholarship that you are proud of (you are two books published with a third on the way!)

    We can certainly be our own harshest critics when it comes to anything about life, so, yeah, there is always that kind of "what the hell am I doing" aspect to anything.

    I do think, however, that once you decide to leave this all behind, you will find the next thing that will fulfill you. Until then, I think being a misfit is quite enjoyable :)