Taking Stock and Celebrating Self
Ok, so the things that were supposed to come together for the infamous tenure journey have come together. Writing my tenure narrative felt like more work than my dissertation (I guess that being a better writer than I was 10 years ago could also be a factor). I worked and crafted and altered my CV like it was a masterpiece, a work of art (a work of art that will never end – I am sure). But those two pieces are me, they are all the time and effort, blood, sweat, tears, triumphs and mistakes that make me the scholar I am today. The reality is that at this very moment I feel like I am just spinning in place. This is not the out of control spinning or I can’t seem to get it together type, but I am spinning because despite all of my doubts, I was able to pull it all together, have something interesting to write about and look at it and say, “Wow, I did all that? Is that really me?”
I am not in the habit of bragging, but I am learning about the celebration of self. At a recent party, I met a man who had gone through the tenure process some years back. His advice is still resonating with me. He told me to celebrate each step, every accomplishment is worth taking a moment celebrating self. “Do not,” he said, “wait for the end, because if you do, you will be disappointed” (flashback to the anticlimactic defending of my dissertation). The advice makes so much sense. It also helps to put things into perspective.
Tenure is supposed to be stressful, it is how things move to the next level. I did not embrace this at first and was in complete denial that this process was going to stress me out. I learned the hard way (see previous posts). I fought it every step of the way and I feel that it significantly backfired on me. However, at this point I am not fighting any more. I am taking stock, I am beginning to feel as if this coming year will be different. I am beginning to feel different and at first I didn’t know what it was. My head is still a little cloudy and things seem a little all over the place, out of sync. But, I think I am coming to an understanding of what it is. Taking stock also means that I need to prepare for the things to come. I was unfamiliar with my identity when I first completed my dissertation. Could not (or did not even want to hear people calling me Doctor), I have since gotten over that, but this is very similar. The ability to process this is going to take time – maybe that is why the tenure process takes so many damn months! And I hope when I come out the other side of the promotion mountain, I will feel whole again and stock will be taken – hey, the children will also be a year older and one more will enter the ranks of the publicly schooled. lol.
Oh, and I do I feel different. My work seems to have a different texture to it. I am beginning the process of forming my second book, I am writing grants, I am still getting invited to talk at different universities about my first book. I can even choose where I do my next research project (peep the fact that my next site is a plantation site named Millars in Eleuthera, Bahamas). And I can form the ways that my research happens. No digging, no research without full community support and dialogue. I am getting calls and emails to be on this committee or to to attend this conference and…well…this is where the need to organize and calm down has to come into play. So, what I am beginning to understand about myself is that I have to now really be careful. I never thought that my voice would make it this far, I never imagined that my words could affect, count, or be the topic of a graduate seminar or larger conversations about the future of historical archaeology. So, I am learning to not be too humble, but to celebrate this moment, when it was still all very fresh and in its pregnancy. This career will continue to grow, I understand that all the stress is not gone, I have a long process ahead, but as a part of my taking stock and celebrating self is to remember to also be grateful for all I have right now. Because the other thing that I have just recently figured out is that there are no “breaks,” anymore. My summers will probably be filled with other obligations, grants to complete, articles to work on, books to compose, field schools to organize and run, and it is good to be busy, it is good to be a part of change, but whew, the intensity keeps things in perspective…and if not careful, it can still burn you or move you closer to burn out.
So, here is to celebrating self. Here is to taking it all in. Heres to growing up in this academic game. So, in this vein, I had to end this entry with a shameless selfie from last year, way before I thought I could pull this tenure thing off… Through it all, my ‘fro continues to be one of the core aspects of my strength, and to be honest, even that feels different these days…
So, as usual, blog out…