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Coffee and Contentment

Coffee and Contentment

This was inspired from a partially thought-out Twitter thread.

As you know, I’ve had some time on my hands lately. Self-reflection was inevitable… as was a couple of midday movie matinees and Netflix binging. Three weeks now, I’m waist deep in my soul sabbatical (technically unemployment, but you know, semantics). I have lunched with friends on a whim and dodged every urge to do anything that resembles work. That’s a big deal for me. If you know me, feel free to applaud.

And, I’ve managed to learn a thing or two or five.. So here are my top lessons thus far:

Failure is a matter of focus

My career aside, I’m actually doing pretty well. I live in a small, modest home that we own. At six years, my marriage has outlasted every relationship in which I’ve ever been in. My kids are pretty great, and it is, in part, due to my parenting. I get great student evaluations and consistent praise from my colleagues. I do not suck nearly as much as I think I do.

People love me even if search committees don’t

Academic hiring entities are called search committees, and thus far, they hate me. They don’t even want me on their short list. That said, many other people actually think I’m pretty cool. I need to spend more time with those people and listen to what they have to say.

My job is what I do; it is not who I am

It takes not getting work to realize how much our identity is entangled with our employment (Quick side note: Here’s where I completely acknowledge the privilege I have to be married to a man who is currently employable. I can come to this revelation because there’s still food on the table.) Be that as it may, I see how we think our job title is us. It’s not. It’s what we do. You are no less you if you’re not working. Just think about that.

Meritocracy is real… and a myth

Meritocracy is the concept that the people in charge are so because they are the most skilled and educated. While that is sort of true, it’s mostly not. There’s a now recently famous quote by former First Lady and personal icon Michelle Obama where she states that, having been in the presence of the world’s greatest leaders, she can confidently say they aren’t as bright as we all assume they are. It was never about me being the best. Despite the idea of meritocracy, striving for perfection will not guarantee me a seat at the table. At the very least, that should take some of the pressure off.

Rest and laziness are not the same

I am slowly but surely getting this. I am doing due diligence to my existence when I’m just sitting with a cup of coffee and contentment in the morning.

This is just the start, but if I were to really internalize these concepts, I see a bright summer and future ahead. Just have to get out of my own way… which is another lesson entirely.

~Jennifer.

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