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04/22/2019

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dreading anonymity

Something I did not anticipate at the outset is how I would come to crave the recognition of my professional peers (or, really, superiors). It's built into the very idea of writing an article that you write for an imagined audience, you respond to famous people as though they would care what you said about their work, you make interventions in debates as though they could in some small way change the course of the literature.

The people you respect get invited to give colloquia and give keynotes. The idea of being completely anonymous to them is horrifying. Having an objectively good life--tenure, health insurance, a decent salary, a non-miserable job--but still feeling like a professional failure because the famous people you write responses to don't respond and no one invites you to give talks and your work gets very little uptake, that is something I think it is impossible to account for when considering grad school.

It isn't inevitable. Some people get along fine deriving value and a sense of self from other parts of their life. But I think it's pretty common and, given how strongly it correlates with giving up on hobbies and letting old friendships wither, and, generally, letting go of other sources of value, it's a radical shift in one's utility function.

Gene

Losing touch with friends is a tremendous cost to earning a PhD. And it typically happens at least TWICE - the first time is when you relocate to start your PhD and the second is when you abandon your newly acquired grad-school friends upon graduation.

Not to mention family. They get left behind, too.

Helen De Cruz

I long debated with myself on whether to write a blogpost entitled "the happy painter" - I drafted it and almost put it out there on the Cocoon but thought the better of it eventually. But here's a short version that can be in the comments of this post.

Before going to graduate school for my first PhD I was trying to survive/get by as an artist. I have an undergrad background in art sciences/history and archaeology. It is hard to gain recognition and notoriety as an artist (ironically, OUP will now be publishing a collection of drawings I did of thought experiments - so never say never!) Suffice it to say I didn't get anywhere, I got some commissions from local places to do murals, and one invite from a political magazine to make cartoons. I got by giving classes in water colour and sketching to kids/adults who always wanted to draw in my own house. The kids weren't motivated.

I had also a second track: trying to go to grad school, get a doctorate, and become a scientist or a professor (this was archaeology/art sciences). What happened is I ended up doing 2 doctorates (the second in philosophy, my real passion) and it took me 7 years on postdoc positions to finally get a tenure track position. But then things happened quickly. I got a competitive postdoc fellowship at Oxford University. Then I got a tenure track, after which I quickly got a tenured, more senior position at another university, and now, I'm 40 and I accepted an offer for an endowed chair position (full professor) at SLU. I still can't quite believe it, given all long, uncertain period I went through.

While I was trying to eek out an existence as an artist in my mid 20s I got an offer from a school to become a full-time teacher. At the same time of that offer I got an offer for a fully-paid PhD studentship that I had applied unsuccessfully to the year before. What to do? The painter track was a secure position. I knew the school (it was my secondary school). I think I could've been happy, perhaps buy a house, never move again.

Instead I chose the PhD fellowship, ended up moving multiple times, and will soon move to my fourth country.

Was it worth it? I certainly spent joyless years in my early thirties obsessing over the job market (this is how I came to the Cocoon and how I got to blogging). Then I realized that this wasn't a way to go, my attitude was affecting my spouse and my then only child, and I didn't want to have regrets later on.

So I overhauled my life and tried to cultivate away the bitterness of failed job interviews and straight on misogyny (at one place where I did a postdoc and a TT came open, they said "We won't invite you for an interview but don't worry you're a woman and you'll get plenty of job interviews because of affirmative action". I'm not saying by the way that anger is a misplaced emotion or that people can't be angry. But for me, anger was not the right response and I felt that if I should become again myself and not a shadow of myself I should (1) take enough time with family (2) make enough time for hobbies/passions such as drawing and making music and (3) try to help other people who were struggling on the job market, as I was.

In addition, I devoted quite some time learning how the philosophy job market works with the eyes (and thanks to my training) of an anthropologist: I realised that philosophy like other fields has its own rituals, norms and ways of engaging with others. I hired a job market consultant, read lots of works in the Chronicle of Higher Education, THE and also journal articles on the academic job market. This helped me get more interviews (as I was now also publishing, e.g., in journals philosophers value more) and it even inspired me to write a paper (on prestige bias in philosophy, now published in Ergo). I sought out mentors (very kind, helpful people senior in the profession) I could trust. And then I used that info to pass on on the Cocoon and other media.

I am not saying this works for everyone, just one story of one person. I am extremely lucky. Given that I come from a modest working class background with no ideas about middle-class values, an immigrant background too with a lot of implicit (and explicit) racism against people like me, given my unusual background of archaeology and art sciences, given my unusual interests I just extremely lucked out and I'm also very fortunate to have met and relied on excellent mentors - as it so happened, they were mostly straight, white, cis men. It's important to have good allies! My advisors too, especially Igor Douven, was very helpful and supportive. I am undoubtedly falling short in paying it forward.

I'm wary of success stories as setting some sort of norm. Still, it's important for stories of yes, it was worth it (and it still is) to hear. I met a junior woman philosopher of color in the APA Pacific just now who said to me "It is very important for someone like me to see that it is possible to succeed, and I'm glad you're part of the profession". I would not wish to be a role model, those are too big shoes to fit, but at the very least I hope to pay back the help from all those mentors by doing my best to pay it forward. The job market's filled with all kinds of luck. It sucks, I don't see how to fix that structurally, but at least sometimes, it is important to say: sometimes, it is worth it.

Ronald Gripweister

Dreading anonymity's comment is spot on. Philosophy is a business which is involved in deeming certain people's opinions worthy of attention, and it is more or less impossible to participate in philosophy without subscribing to that set of values, even if the people whose work you value is different from those of others. However, statistically speaking, very few people have any attention at all paid to their own research. So one constantly has to grapple with that fact. Even if one objectively speaking has pretty good work conditions (tenure, a good location, decent pay, etc.), that's a type of psychological burden that not so many professions carry outside of academia.

Robert A Gressis

I have a really good situation: I live in the San Fernando valley, near Los Angeles; my wife has a good job, and we have a great kid; I'm a full professor; I like all my colleagues; and, near as I can tell, our department is harmonious.

And yet, I have deep dissatisfaction with my situation.

First, there are the kinds of considerations "dreading anonymity" has raised: I can't seem to help but to want to be published in the best journals, but I'm not published in them, so I feel like I'm not a successful researcher. I further worry that this may be endemic to philosophy if it's practiced in the university and by roughly 20,000 Ph.D. recipients: there may have to be a few "great figures" who set the agenda, who largely respond to each other, and who inspire nipping at their heels by the rest of the herd, in the hopes of becoming promoted to great figure-hood oneself. (I've been reading Nietzsche lately; I have the sense not to try to imitate his style, but not necessarily enough sense not to be influenced by his ideas.)

Second, many of my students don't seem to be motivated to want to do anything I tell them to, whether it's reading, writing, in-class exercises, group exercises, or paying attention to my lecture.

Third, the evidence Bryan Caplan provided in The Case Against Education make me worry that I'm doing very little good for my students as a whole anyway. (I might do more good if the students *were* motivated, but they're not being motivated is precisely what one would expect of them, given their situation.)

The three foregoing problems make me fantasize about leaving my job and doing something else. But I'm not sure I'm suited to or qualified for anything else (at least, anything else that comes close to giving a comparable salary and benefits). And, at 43, I'm running out of time. Not to mention that I've been socialized into (and I also have reasons for) thinking that leaving a tenured position near Los Angeles is fairly idiotic.

Amanda

There is *so* much I could say about this - but for now I will just try to note a couple of things that come to my mind first:

1.I think it is unquestionable that Marcus is right re we need to consider the costs of the grad school experience, as well as the costs of getting a tenure-track job, among other things. To some extent any career has stress and loss, and depending on the type of person you are, one might desire hard to achieve recognition in any career. That said, academia and/or philosophy does seem unique in the following ways.

1. You have almost no choice in where you live. Hence, the cost is giving up relationships with friends, family (this depends, but as hard as one might try it can be difficult to maintain a *close* relationship with family members from a distance) a community, a sense of home, the ability to care for aging parents, and you might end up living somewhere that simply is not suited for your preferences, personality, and hobbies.

2.You spend a very long time making very little money. This, of course, carries a literal high cost insofar as it makes it challenging to be in a good financial position for things like retirement and buying a house. But there is also the cost of how living on poverty wages during grad school means you simply can't afford fun things like vacations and some material pleasures, and a lack of an emergency fund can carry extra stress. If you are in the minority of philosophers who takes out significant student loans to mitigate this difficulty, then you have to deal with paying them back.

3. What I explain in (1) and (2) above can obviously be hard on one's mental and emotional health, but there are other aspects of academia generally and philosophy in particular that make mental health issues a salient concern. All the stress involved in trying to publish, trying to garner peer respect, trying to get a job, and the awful truth that some people will spend their entire career stressed about making a name for themselves and never really achieve this aim. I know people like this, and their desire for success and sadness at perceived academic failures did not subside with job security or tenure.

Next, I consider this an especially important point: philosophers (when compared to other academic disciplines) are *mean.* At conferences, workshops, when getting your papers and sometimes your teaching reviewed, you will be told, harshly, that your arguments are weak, that your ideas are uninteresting, that you have nothing of value to offer to the literature, that you have no excuse for making sloppy mistakes, that you clearly are not familiar with the subject matter, that your theoretical concerns are completely unwarranted, and that your paper looks like it was written in 5 minutes when in reality you have been working on it for 5 years. And even when you are not told this directly, you will feel this way as you learn of repeated rejections from journals, publishers, jobs, grant applications, and conference submissions .

4. Due to the lifestyle and the frequent moving, it can be hard to find a souse or a partner: I suspect this is especially true for women. Even in progressive academia, I know many male philosophers who have female partners that have followed them around the country. While not unheard of, this is far less common when the genders are reversed.

A brief note about my own case. While in some sense I was very lucky to achieve my dream of working at a research university relatively quickly, there was of course a high cost. I almost didn't go on the market because I was very hesitant to leave the home and community I love. And sadly, just as I suspected, I lost touch with my former friends and community. I am extremely introverted and have lots of social anxiety, among other issues, so it is very hard for me to make new friends and social circles, and frankly, I haven't. I take lots of pharmaceuticals (Admittedly, perhaps I would have taken many of them anyway, as one can't discount my predispositions nor childhood). Anyway, drugs numb the troubles significantly but as Aristotle said, "Without friends, man would choose not to live, though he had all other goods." Well, I am not at the "choosing not to live" point, but there is a gap in my life that can't be filled by all the professional success in the world. I think about this everyday, if not every hour.

Marcus Arvan

Rob, dreading anonymity, and Amanda: You all put your finger on something I had intended to include in the post but forgot to - the costs accruing to the ways that life in the academy psychologically changes you.

For me, there are a number of costs there. But the most serious one is never feeling good enough: as a researcher or as a teacher. You receive so much negative feedback over the years (from superiors, journal reviewers, students, etc.) that, over time, you begin to be incessantly critical of *yourself*. That can manifest itself in many ways, not the least of which are the ways both of you mention.

Peter Furlong

I think there are additional crucial questions too; ones which, I think, are probably best read not as involving transformative experiences, but serious epistemic difficulties nonetheless. These questions center on how much we would enjoy having a faculty position and how much we would enjoy our careers if we decide not to go the PhD route in the first place. Both academic and nonacademic careers can involve twists and turns that we would not anticipate, and, without experience in those sorts of careers, we might have a difficult time determining how much we would enjoy spending our lives in this or that field. One sign of this difficulty, I think, is the way in which many undergraduates thinking about grad school say things like "the only career I could ever enjoy is in academia." I doubt that is true, but to be fair to these students, they lack knowledge of most careers, and so are not in a great position to know how to compare academic positions with non-academic ones.

Another Anon

Here's a quick thought--not meant to override any of the other points, but one to add to the consideration set: non-academic careers have their own downsides. So, the "is getting a TT job worth it?" question, if it's worth asking, should probably be asked as a contrastive: "which would be better, all things considered, and in the long-run: getting a TT job or doing some other career path?" I think that's really hard to answer, so hard I’m not sure how much value there is in asking it. Before academia, I spent years in the business world, and I assure you that there're lots of problems there, too—some of which are similar to problems academics face. Of course, lots of things depend on the particulars of your own history, personality, family situation; and the type of career you choose; and other things, too. So I think it's really complicated. If most or all one’s done is academia, one's not in a great position to make the comparisons. Heck, I've done some of both and I still doubt I could reliably judge which is better. (I had a non-academic career, and now I'm an academic job marketeer.) I do think that academia presents big problems that many non-academic careers don't present as much, e.g., delaying finding a partner, building a family, etc. But there're definitely non-academic careers that are similarly bad on these issues, too. Anyway, I guess my point is just that while academia has some massive costs, I'm not so confident that, from a God's eye view, so to speak, the costs and benefits of a non-academic career (which is, of course, highly dependent on the type of career and other variables) are all-told obviously preferable (or obviously significantly preferable) to the costs and benefits of an academic career. And I'm even less sure that most academics are in a good position to make the comparison. None of this is meant to discount the concerns about the costs of building an academic career, though. I hope we'll make it better over time.

often bitter

I resonate with all these comments. It took me about 6 years to land a TT position. Along the way I kept consoling myself that I'd fare ok because I happened to be lucky enough to be in a top PhD dept, also tops in my AOS; then, the first short-term jobs I got were at highly prestigious schools. But this required me to drag my family (with very young children) to multiple locations across the globe, which has led me to feel seriously responsible for all the sacrifices they've had to make. This all while enduring years of opportunity costs and only enough income to get us through. Out of necessity (and with a bit of luck, of course) I published a lot, in the best places; that was reassuring, but it didn't translate into a long-term job for while. Finally I got a TT job, with great dept colleagues, and which is overall a good fit for me; but it's in an insanely expensive city, and my institution is small and not on especially strong financial footing. So my pay is pretty low and as a result I (and most of us) feel seriously undervalued (I'm paid less than the public high school teachers in my city, controlling for similar education and years into teaching. Some of my colleagues have to take on additional work by driving Uber, or securing grants, or what have you). In my early 40s and still not tenured. Sacrificed financial and relational stability, most of my hobbies and interests and family connections, and well, I "won" by getting a TT job in a great city; but we're still struggling with the aftermath. I thought that it'd be different if I ever got a long-term job. I had no idea the sacrifices could be this great, for this long.

Amanda

Helen: I am interested by your claim that it is worth it. You have a great success story, of course (to some extent one might wonder how much "success" is necessary to be "worth it."

I guess what I can't wrap my head around is how to even come to the criteria for judging something is worth it. I am completely agnostic on this front. I do love my job, but there were very high costs, and I of course just don't know how things would have turned out if I had done things differently.

ash

One thing I'll add is that not only did I need to move away from family and college friends and the city of my choice for grad school, and then from my grad school friends when I got a job--but then when I got that job (at an R1), I still kept making and losing friends, because junior academics move a lot. Over the course of my six years at this, my first job, I have made exactly seven very good academic friends (postdocs and other TT profs--friendship with tenured profs felt difficult, since I knew that at the end of the day they held my career in their hands). None of them live here anymore.

postdoc

Philosophy is intrinsic to my nature. I couldn't stop doing philosophy before I even knew that there was an academic discipline called 'philosophy.' However, despite being successful academically (e.g. regarding publications), I could never make it professionally--not sure why honestly. It wasn't worth it, if that's not obvious. I have no other abilities, and I lost most of my friends moving around. I didn't understand this to be an option at the time, but I wish I had pursued philosophy non-professionally and something else professionally. At the time, my mindset was choose a profession you love and stick with it, and at university I was introduced to professional philosophy and loved it.

Helen De Cruz

Amanda: I'm not sure about that. Undeniably, even for people who succeed (this was Marcus' original point) there are significant sacrifices - especially if you have (as he and I did) spend many years in non-secure positions. I've never been an adjunct, that must be a special kind of hell not being able to subsist properly on top of all the other stuff. The reason why I say it was worth it (even if I had not received that senior offer) is that I am happy as an academic and feel I can make a difference. A big downside of being an academic is the constant sense of not being good or successful enough, as indicated in this discussion. Very few people (maybe full profs at ivys excepted) are immune to that. But I do know academics who went into the private or public non-academic sector, such as my sister, and it's not all smooth there either - you have other issues there such as cronyism, sexism is also a thing, and job insecurity too.

V. Alan White

I, like Marcus and Helen, owe a lot to luck (Google "Asymmetrical Luck" for my musing on that) for my career. And I want to stress that having good luck on many levels is almost essential to success in academic philosophy as well as the necessary conditions of good, hard work and love of teaching (for most non-R-1s at least). But let me also say something from the perspective of one who has recently retired from the University of Wisconsin System, which is probably representative of many state and well-funded private institutions.

I have a retirement that my parents--blue-collar workers who didn't complete high school--could only hope for in their wildest dreams. Did I get into philosophy thinking about that? Of course not. I had a passion for it, for teaching, and I loved (almost) every day of my career. But what I discovered is that getting into a decent TT position would lead to a retirement that I could not really anticipate that was as good as it gets for someone like me, from my background.

I don't mean just financially. I mean that I had a career that was extremely fulfilling, and one that I hope to extend even into retirement in research. But, here's one point that I think can't be appreciated until one retires: even a successful and fulfilling career is one that involves levels of stress that one cannot appreciate until it is over, and especially if one like me teaches 4/4 or more.

My entire working life was lived with pressure--classroom prep, grading, committees, commuting, writing, conferences--that, while many times satisfying, led me to weight fluctuations, high BP, frequent alcohol abuse, and all these despite being a life-long runner/exerciser. Retiring has led me to see the huge amount of stress I carried--even while loving my career--now that I no longer have that. My weight has dropped and is stable. My BP is now *below* average. My resting pulse is in the 50s. I did not know how much what I loved was pushing me to the edge of acceptable health.

The TT for many has a beautiful outcome: retirement. But now from that perspective, grateful for it and enjoying it immensely, I just warn you--what you love has its costs, and some of those you will not truly appreciate until you've finally expended--and I hope survived--them.

Patrick

On the question "Was it worth it?" I think you also have to consider whether it will have been worth it if you had made a shot at this career and didn't succeed. I had a path very much like Marcus, except that I didn't make it/got out when it made sense to quit trying for TT. And presumably folks who do persist and finally land TT are largely the exception right? That is, compared to those who begin PhD programs and drop out or who finish the degree but don't end up in the professoriate. If you land TT you have walked on a knife-edge and managed to not fall off.

To the extent that this topic is inevitably personal, in my case I tend to think I would do the same thing all over again. I would say doing philosophy has indeed afforded me what I hoped I would get when I signed up for the field as a 21 year old, plus a lot more that I couldn't have envisioned. This despite the fact that I now have a lot of debt, and my years attempting to land TT posed major threats to my health and wellbeing that I still deal with now. I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to be a professional student and scholar for the 10-15 years that I was dedicated to the field. Because at the end of the day, the academic professoriate is something like a priestly caste, where in exchange for doing teaching and service, you are subsidized to study something you love. Most folks are not going to come anywhere near that kind of privilege in their whole lifetime. I was also very fortunate to land in an alt-ac career with good salary and job security. I now have the luxury to study and write what I want without the constant pressure of increasing my outputs, although my free time for this stuff is much less. If anything, I now find it occasionally frustrating that I can't do more with my philosophy work, although I would like to - that much of the investment I made during my years in the field is limited to a very diminished and slow cultivation in the present.

Amanda

Patrick: very glad to hear your perspective. I wish I heard this kind of thing more. Not sure if it is because your perspective is not common, or just that people who complain are those more likely to post.

Joseph

Hello--- I am now a 65 year old guy who majored in philosophy in the 70s and was admitted with funding to
several good philosophy graduate programs. I was too scared to pursue philosophy professionally and "settled" on law school. I had a moderately successful career as a lawyer and still practice. Now, of course, I wish I had "pursued the dream." I work as a lawyer only half time now so I have more time to read and think, and am pursuing issues in philosophy and literature. But, in many ways, it's far too little, far too late.

It's probably fair to say that I am the exact mirror image of many of you who question whether the Ph.D. process was ultimately "worth it." I have been able to live very comfortably where I wished to, have made a bunch more money than I likely would have even if I were lucky enough to get a good philosophy position (no sure thing, by any stretch), developed long professional friendships and was able to attract/retain SO(s) who almost certainly would have passed on me had I been, say, an itinerant adjunct philosophy teacher. But.... time is running out on me now, and there is so much I have not learned or pursued.

So, I am envious of you. Perhaps you are a little bit envious of me, who knows? Maybe we will be reincarnated and get to try again.

Tom

It seems to me that a point that Paul and Quiggan overlook is nicely brought out in Joseph's comment: if you don't pursue graduate school and a career in philosophy, what will you think ten, twenty, forty years down the road? It's a cliche to be sure, but there is something to be said for pursuing your dream. And it seems to me that just as going through the grad school and job market grind is a transformative experience, so is working for a decade or two in a career that wasn't your first choice. That you might regret going to graduate school if things don't work out is a reason to not go to graduate school only if you can be pretty sure you won't regret not going. And I doubt that you can have much assurance of the latter.

Amanda

Tom: that's not a bad point. And Joseph's story is an interesting one. I think a lot of us go into philosophy because we have the perspective he seems to have - genuine intellectual curiosity and true desire for philosophical knowledge for its own sake. But then we get into the profession and realize that being a professional philosopher is nothing like that, i.e. it is not full of people sincerely pursuing truth and knowledge for its own sake. And that changes everything.

I also think part of the issue is knowing whether professional philosophy is or is not your dream in the first place. I love my job, I love philosophy - but I tend to think, now, as an adult who knows myself much better than I did in my early 20's, that there are a few careers I would have chosen ahead of philosophy, if I got to do it again. Perhaps, though, another me in a close possible world is saying the same thing except this me believes they *should have* done philosophy. Either way, I believe it is likely philosophy is in my top 5 of career dreams and certainly my top 10. Getting to live that is pretty special by itself.

Anon prof

I'm on the tenure track now -- I love my job. I enjoy interacting with students, I find my field of research stimulating and important, and generally, I find I'm pretty good at what I do. But I'm not the best and I'm not out to be. There are people who are better at teaching, who are smarter and harder-working researchers, and they deserve that title.

I decided early on not to sacrifice too much for philosophy. I could very well see myself doing something else. If my husband's career took a turn and he asked us to move, I would quit my job and move. We have several children and a happy home life. I have a close friend who says "Your career won't love you back" ... there is wisdom in this, ESPECIALLY with academic philosophy. The opinions of your colleagues are fickle, students are harsh in their reviews and often overly-demanding ("I need you to meet me at 11:17 on Tuesday exactly with detailed comments on my paper, or I will destroy you in your teaching evals") ... In the end, your job won't love you back, it may not be so "rewarding", and investing in family and relationships will ultimately be what makes it all worthwhile.

This is difficult. There's a culture of over-investment in philosophy, due to its competitiveness, which leads to a ton of disappointment, which in turn exacerbates this problem by making it so that there is even more at stake: family, mental health, financial health. I'm one of the lucky few, I know. I still might not get tenure, but I'm trying to maintain a healthy balance, and so I'm not going to make tenure the sole focus of my life the next few years. If that means my career is over in 3 years, so be it -- at least I won't have missed my children's early years, for the sake of my career.

V. Alan White

Anon Prof--pretty impressive post, embodying what I'd call philosophical wisdom in the truest sense, especially as practiced by the ancients. Best of luck--our profession desperately needs people like you.

A Non-Mouse

V. Alan White: Wisdom in the truest sense? On a blog where many report being desperate to find gainful employment in an academic position, a person's financial security leads him or her to express how unimportant to him or her such a position is. I'm not sure how wise this is. It demonstrates less than full wisdom, since it demonstrates ignorance of, or perhaps a lack of concern for how poor a situation some of us are in. I would have thought that this demonstrates folly or foolishness to some extent, especially as understood by the ancients.

V. Alan White

Well I think I have to say it's pretty sad when complimenting someone for personal virtues in a public forum is turned into somehow insulting others. I suppose this reveals the same kind of fractures in the philosophy community found just about everywhere else in public discourse. Anon prof was just providing a perspective that I appreciated, nothing more.

A Non-Mouse

It hasn't been turned into an insult by me. I was simply questioning your claim that the post embodies wisdom in the trust sense. When questioning a person's claim on a philosophy blog is turned into somehow turning a compliment into an insult, it is both sad and indicative of a propensity to perceive problems where there are none. Perhaps such a propensity has resulted in the fracturing to which you allude.

Cassie

I just wanted to thank everyone for sharing and articulating some thoughts I had and didn't realize were common. When philosophers outline the good life, friends and community are always included. Not having any choice over where you live (as in academia)can destroy friendship and community--the very things Philosophy recommends. The challenge is to make new friends and community, which is HARD but not impossible. That's where I'm putting my energies now that I am tenured. If I had never gotten tenure, all the sacrifice would not have been worth it; my heart goes out to the Ph.D. adjuncts. But, if I didn't need money, being an adjunct near family might be preferable to being tenured away from them. Unfortunately, like most people, I have bills to pay and must work. I think of telling my students to live with their parents, bartend, save money, buy a small RV and a truck they can work on to pull it, move around to beautiful places, take random seasonal jobs, and get out of the rat race entirely. If we had national health insurance, I would tell them to do this. Without it, it's a bad gamble.

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