Friday, August 10, 2012

looking forward

I know many people go through this.  I probably over-think it more than most people, but I console myself with the mantra, "you're not alone, you're not alone, you're not alone."  What am I talking about?  Let me explain.

As I transition from graduate student life to full-time academic employment, I feel the need to reassess some of my goals and--as odd as it may sound--figure out what parts of me aren't necessary anymore.  And, honestly, I need to figure out what is missing.

I'll never forget, my very first semester of my Ph.D. program, I took a short story seminar (shout out to Sharone, Stef, Jan, Doug, what what).  After our professor read our first batch of mid-semester papers, she announced that we basically had all written on "identity" and that she was forbidding the topic because it was...stupid.  Identity is self-constructed and over-discussed in academia, so she was putting her foot down.  No more identity.  Yes, many of us were writing about politics, poverty, race, gender, nationality, etc.  And identity was naturally a part of that.  But it was our job to go past identity and say something more significant and thought provoking.  I wrote some great papers for that class, moving far past surface-level analysis of characters' identity, and that moment has made me a better literature teacher and tutor.  But it's taken years for me to be able to understand that I need to assess myself that way, too, and look beyond my titles, my accolades, my jobs, my responsibilities, my partnerships, determine who I am and who I will be.  And what's entirely separate, perhaps, who I want to be. 
  • Am I healthy: physically, emotionally, mentally?
  • What are my goals and my ambitions?
  • Will my pursuit of these things further my Father's kingdom?
  • What can I do to make my daily life both simpler and more productive?
What other questions belong in this list?  What soul-searching questions would you ask yourself during a life transition?  I'm not alone, right?