On priorities

This is what I learned about priorities.

First education: Service and leisure come first. Creative and lucrative work are ornaments that enhance your service potential, or that are parts of leisure. (I was always dissatisfied with this hobbycraft version of life.)

College and graduate school: Research and creative work are first, teaching and lucrative work are second, service is third, and all of these things take place within the framework of a life that includes leisure, personal development, and maintenance work. (I liked this a lot and it was also the mode that prevailed in the two contingent jobs I had, both also at R1 institutions.)

First job: Teaching is first, service is second, research is third, and all of these things take place in a framework that puts college social life ahead of other parts of life. (This was a terrible culture shock from which I have not recovered.)

Second job: Research is again first, but real research is oriented toward fundraising. Therefore do lucrative research as it is, we repeat, of prime importance. Otherwise, carry on as in college and graduate school, just do all things at a lower level and step up leisure activities to compensate. (This was a relief but the highly utilitarian understanding of research was dissatisfying and bleak.)

Reeducation: Neuroses and leisure are first. Anything else you can get is lagniappe and can be taken in any order, but of the possible things low-level teaching is first. (This was terrifying because it mirrored my first education and to a degree, my first job. I have not fully recovered from it.)

Third job: Managing chaos is first, teaching and major service are second, research is really third but is said to be first, and you had really better have a life outside somehow because here war is first, desolation is second and in a thousand years there will not be peace. (This is endlessly frustrating.)

I am not uninterested in The Profession; it is just that I did not know what it was. In college and graduate school — and I studied, one way or another, at six institutions — I got a certain impression of how things would be. Of the six institutions only one was not R1 and I ran away to an R1 as soon as I could. At the time I thought Institution #6 was just an odd place, but in retrospect I realize it was not odd, it was merely not an R1.

This is why I say R1 university work is one thing, and everything else college or university is another planet. There are people who manage to remain in an R1 style bubble even without being at one. I wish to emulate them but am still not sure how. I think a double income helps, and I know a very strong personality helps. I was told today that I was “a remarkable woman” but clearly I need to become even more remarkable if I am to be satisfied.


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