Over at the Smoker, there is a great post up about the anxiety surrounding the job market. Mr. Zero points out that every year, he gets hopeful about a certain job opportunity only to have his hopes dashed by the long odds of securing a job. He makes the point that without this hope, he might come across as relatively uninterested in a job interview. Of course, having your hopes continually squashed with rejections seems like an unhealthy life practice. It seems that there’s a dilemma between letting these hopes go, or trying to avoid stirring them up in the first place.
As someone who is going to be applying to PhD programs this year, I can relate to his experience. When I look over the (very long, very expensive) list of places I will be applying to, I can’t help but get excited about each of the opportunities. Some places are near family, others are in very attractive places to live, and all of them have philosophers that I would love to work with. This excitement is useful, as it gives me motivation to continuously revise my writing sample and my personal statement. It also helps me to slog through the meticulous process of sending GRE scores, transcripts, and entering in personal information for each application.
Even though the motivation is practically useful, I suspect that this process is not completely healthy. It’s stressful to look towards the future and have a giant, looming question mark. Even though I have a lot of work to occupy myself, I inevitably find myself gravitating towards these thoughts when I have a spare moment. I know that this isn’t a problem unique to philosophy or academia, but I think it’s particularly exacerbated by this intense application process. I’m hoping to get some perspective from those who have gone through this process (and the job market, etc.) before. What can one do to avoid obsessing over the possibilities? Do you have any advice for dealing with this type of uncertainty?