I was reading a jobs website today and ran across an article giving advice for a “successful” job interview out of state.
Just reading the title (basically what I wrote above) twisted my stomach into a knot and left me with a pervasive sense of anxiety.
No, I’m not afraid to try something new. If you know me, you know that’s not it.
Since receiving my PhD in May, 2012, I’ve submitted over 100 applications for full time and/or tenure track employment at universities and community colleges all across the United States. And a couple went to Canada, but that’s a different story.
On several occasions I’ve received calls back from schools that had filled the full time positions, but they asked me to consider contingent work there. In each of those cases, my current contingent work is more substantial and more secure than what I was offered.
I’m worn out.
If it weren’t such a cliché, I’d say “I’m too old for this shit.” No wait, I AM too old for this shit.
I must be at the ragged edge, if it’s provoking anxiety where it used to produce a sense of excitement.
If any hiring committee knew my age, they’d eliminate me in the first round. It’s illegal to do, but makes good business sense and we all know that the colleges and universities are following a corporate model more than a learning model these days.
I have a friend who is also looking for college/university work who thinks each committee knows exactly how old we are. She’s my age. She is convinced that’s why we aren’t finding jobs. At our age.
I think it’s because of the number of candidates for full time/tenure track positions. One local university (local, as in right here in Inlandia!) had 400 jobs for one position. Over 100 applicants is typical.
I picture the head of the search committee standing on a chair and tossing the applications into the air. Those that land to his/her left get tossed. Those that hand to the right, get reviewed.
I have a small list of criteria that I think gets people like my friend and I tossed before or right around the first round. Not necessarily age-related, but maybe she’s right about that, too. I feel a spate of adjunct posts coming up…including one about my friend.
So why the anxiety?
I’ve had enough.
I’m still peeling off layers of stress from the divorce. That stage is almost done but it’s left a scary aftermath in my financial life. I’m trying to figure out how I can manage for the rest of my life. I’m earning alone about 38% of what the income around here was before. There are reasons for my lower earnings. I can’t go back and rearrange things; I just have to deal.
I’m ready to stop all unnecessary and pointless job-hunting activities and really focus on what will sustain me for the next however many years. I have to have a plan for the time when B is 18 and his SSI stops.
Frankly, I’d be happy if I could be assured the same number of classes each term. And have health care from the college like the full timers do.
The big state system I work for holds me to three classes a semester and that’s barely enough to get by on. State universities are more profitable to work for and they sometimes give 10-month contracts rather than single-semester contract. They give you medical insurance. I don’t know about their pensions, but I’ve watched my pension opportunities float on down the river, anyway.
So why would I get a jolt of anxiety at an article telling me how to handle those tricky out-of-state job interviews?
I’ve had it. Like I said, I’ve had enough.
I just wrangled a loan modification for this underwater house so that the kids and I can continue to live here, basically paying rent to the loan company. Add in everything tied to “ending a long term marriage with a boatload of offspring.”
It goes on and on.
As insecure as it is, my current job is more secure than setting myself up for another round of applying “out there.” As little as it pays, I need to keep working, take a deep breath, and continue to pinch those pennies until I can figure out what comes next that’s productive, not fruitless.
I’ve pretty much decided I need to be more creative rather than keep chasing after any work that has the word “tenure” attached to it. I think that road, for me, leads nowhere.
I’ve been saying this for a few months, that I’ve had enough. Then I begin chasing my tail again in the job hunt.
Somehow, through determination, the support of my kids, the help of friends, and more determination, I’ve been creating a life where I thought it would not be possible.
I didn’t expect this but it’s what is. I am more than willing to accept it.
You know how people are always saying something like the way to be happy is to want what you get instead of getting what (you think) you want? Do you think there’s a kernel of truth there? Maybe there is.
I think there is, maybe, if you don’t lay yourself down and refuse to get out of bed. If you do a radical acceptance thing, but continue to embrace life and new opportunities…