On fear of starting work

…if it has become a space of oppression, one naturally does not wish to enter it. I fear lower division courses and this fear paralyzes me for them and thus for everything. That is why I keep saying, you have to take authority. WAIT, I SEE: the issue is the lack of authority in course and program design, and the lack of authority for all built into our program, I see! I was taught you had to just let go of those courses, take orders and walk on through, but I do not like being so disabled.

At one of my jobs research was the space of freedom, but at another, research belonged to them and teaching was the space of freedom. At yet another, service was the only space in which you could make decisions of your own, since teaching decisions were made by others, obstacles were cast in one’s path to prevent any day from being normal in any aspect, and the library was closed for renovations (this was before the real Internet, too).

You have to keep remembering you have authority, which is difficult to do in an institutional context one of my colleagues says is “uniquely authoritarian, in a region which is already particularly authoritarian.” Nonetheless you have to keep remembering you have authority.

This alone makes the space of work interesting, bright and free, as opposed to allowing it to feel like such a heavy yoke.

I do think, though, that the right academic advice post would not be one that trotted out, once again, the old tired advice about writing for fifteen minutes, and warned, once again, that you really do have to do it. Instead it would talk about how to name workplace oppression, and give suggestions for navigating through it.

These suggestions would be smart ones, and not include condescension like “find a sympathetic administrator” (are you kidding me?) or “if you cannot identify a sympathetic administrator, you are clearly not trying to improve your situation.”

Many an abusive person hides behind useful instructions and alleged aid and abettance; this, I suppose, is another reason why I rail against academic advice.

Axé.


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