On Leaving, a Second Time

I officially quit academia this past Thursday.  Well, technically, this is the second time. If you are “lucky enough,” you get to participate in this agony only once.  I have had the privilege of doing this twice, but this time it feels good, right, and on my own terms as opposed to being undervalued and “kicked to the curb.”  I think I am Type 1.5 leaver.  I loved my small liberal arts college, learning, and my professors.  Some filled me with awe and I yearned to be like them.  They were my heroes and role models and I thought they lived the glamorous “life of the mind” thinking deep thoughts in their quirky, old, homes.  In the classroom they would share these deep thoughts with attentive, respectful students (or so it seemed to me at the time).  This life was far removed from my working class upbringing and I wanted it.  I was pretty naïve about this whole professor thing being the first person in my family to go to college, never mind graduate school.  I just knew I wanted to be like them – sharing a passion, having a variable, flexible schedule, challenging status quo thinking, thinking up cool, new ideas, and connecting with students during office hours.  It is easy to look at my 20 year old self now, laugh a slightly evil laugh, and pat myself on the head.  But I didn’t know better and I had the full support of my professors which felt great.  My family was like, “WTF.  Why do you want to spend more time and money on school when the first degree didn’t ‘pay off.'”  (I graduated with my B.A. during the recession of the early 90s and my first job out of college was working in retail.)  I had no idea what being a professor meant.  It has, of course, changed dramatically and in unforeseeable ways in the 23 years since I initially made that decision.

There are a lot of post-academic blogs and I benefit from each and every one I read.  I hope to add to the discussion about life in and transitioning out of academia.