On quitting...

I intended to start this blog for months but apparently needed to utter three words to my dean to make that plan a reality: "I am leaving."

Academe is a funny thing. Granted, I have only been a "doctor" for two-and-a-half years and an assistant professor for one-plus. But, anecdotally at least, I have surmised that far too many of us in the university are simply good students. Multiple role models along the way--parents, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, school counselors, our own professors--patted us on the back and told us that we were smart. "You have such good ideas." "You're really a talented writer." "Have you thought about graduate school?" "The university could really use a mind like yours." With enough positive reinforcement, a well-lit path follows.

To paraphrase a teacher whom I know and love, success is a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Failure, on the other hand, sparks some of the most fruitful learning opportunities. I cannot really say I am a failed academic since I have consciously chosen to go. A quitter, perhaps? I can live with that title, as some of my most meaningful--and beneficial--lessons in life resulted from walking away. To maintain the title "confident quitter," however, one definitely has to ignore the naysayers who repeatedly fire doom and gloom messages, especially those who elected to stay in the fold. My favorite admonition as of late goes something like this: "Must you really pursue such a radical solution to this problem?"

I understand that 20+ years of schooling means I may very well have lost touch with reality. As a result, my eminent departure from the echelons of higher education raises doubts about about my ability to survive beyond the cinder-block and bathroom-tiled world of the university, which is the modern day, public version of my ivory tower. (More on the takeover of the neoliberal regime to come.) Thankfully, I come home to a partner who states matter-of-factly, "You're leaving a job you don't like. What's so crazy about that?"