Ah, the life of the mind. When you’re an academic, you get to spend your time reading great books and thinking deep thoughts in well-appointed dark-paneled rooms to which the occasional respectful student comes to soak up your every wisdom.
We can laugh about images like this, but from Hollywood movies to Ivy League brochures, from Dead Poets Society to Prince of Tides, academia is portrayed as a bastion of privilege, gentility, and quietude. Who wouldn’t want the respect, prestige, and importance of the job?
Even when we know the everyday life of academia has more in common with The Office, even when we spend half an hour arguing about the number of copies we’re allowed per course per semester, even when we do complicated math to try to figure out how and when we’re going to do the research, the course prep, and the grading that are all necessary for success, even when we run up against privacy restrictions on the one hand and in loco parentis on the other, somewhere in the deep recesses of our minds, myths like this one live a flourishing life.
Even when academia truly is the right career choice for us, myths like these can create a vague sense of disquiet, a small sense of perpetual disappointment. Combine that with the frequent experience of being mismatched, either with academia or with your institution, and you have a neat recipe for misery.
This misery does not love company
Too often, that misery is a secret, or something shared only online or with trusted old friends. Too often, that misery is taken as a sign of failure – if I can’t even be happy doing this, I won’t be happy anywhere! – of ingratitude, of foolishness. Too often, that misery becomes a rich source of self-blame, and there’s not much good that comes out of self-blame.
If you’re experiencing misery, or annoyance, or procrastination, or even just a vague sense of doubt and unease, something is wrong.
Maybe that something is you being in academia. Maybe that something is particular to your current situation. We can’t know until we bring it out into the light.
And one way to bring it out into the light is to dig into those myths and mismatches to see if any of them are in play.
10 beacons of light
This e-course offers you 10 myths and mismatches to ponder over the course of 10 days. Each is one that we’ve encountered frequently in our conversations with academics, and each is one that, untangled, can help point you towards a better-feeling life and situation.
Each myth, understood as myth and brought into consciousness, can give you the ability to look, clear-eyed, at the reality of your particular discipline, institution, job, and career. Each mismatch, seen as mismatch instead of failure, can erase some of the shame and blame you might be carrying around.
While there are more myths and mismatches than these 10, these will get you started – and they’ll get you in the mindset of exploring your unhappiness for the false beliefs and the structural problems that might at its heart.
How does it work?
Simple – every day for 10 days, we send you an email describing a different myth or mismatch. We invite you to ponder it and see how it applies to your own situation.
Like many things, what you put into this will have a big effect on what you get out of it – but how you use it is up to you.
You could journal about the myth or mismatch of the day. You could wait until you got all 10 and then look at them all together. You could take them into conversation with friends who are struggling as well.
We don’t have an opinion on how you should best use this, but we do believe, quite strongly, that looking at the myths and mismatches that are at the heart of your unhappiness will clear space for you to figure out something that will make you happier.
Okay, how do I sign up?
If you’d like to sign up for the e-course, just put your name and email in the box below and hit submit – and then check your inbox, where you’ll find an email asking you to confirm your subscription.
Once you confirm, you’ll get a welcome email, and, the following day, your first myth.
And welcome to the process!