It’s been a long time…

Well, first off, it’s been quite a while since I’ve even looked at this blog, let alone thought about posting anything.  On the off-chance you are even remotely interested as to why, I’ll elucidate about that a bit more below.  But first, I’d just like to say, well, sorry about that.  Part of my PhD process was a promise to self and others that results from the study would get back to not only the participants, but also the public at large – needless to say, something of a fail on that one.  The reasons are complex, tied in with why there have been no blogs in general, and may come as something of a surprise to some of you. So, let’s start at the beginning. What on earth have I been doing?  Since finishing my PhD, I’ve been working as a research associate/assistant/project officer/tutor/whateverthehellyouwanttocallitforthepurposesofmyworkcontract at an Australian university.  With, I must add, some pretty amazing academics, in the diversities field – mainly sexualities and race, with some gender in there too.  It’s been pretty great, and I am very very lucky to be employed in my field when most graduates end up in admin if they work at a uni, or as tutors working across institutions, trying to keep afloat on multiple casual contracts.  Which is actually what I am doing, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have those contracts be in research and at one uni – a real novelty in Australia, apparently. You’d think this would have put me in the perfect position to be writing and posting about my research, and the stuff I’m involved with.  Not so much.  Partially because in order to stay afloat financially, casual contracts come in multiples – last year I held 12 contracts, at least half of those simultaneously.  Doesn’t leave a lot of time for concentrated thinking, and certainly not on my own work.  The upside on this, a tremendous learning curve.  Steep, dense, but good. The downside, the constant realisation that, to quote my favourite wildling, ‘you know nothing, Jon Snow’… wait… I’m not Jon … I think…?   This is a common problem for academics, feelings of inadequacy and fakery, that any moment you’re going to get found out as someone who has faked their way into their position, and yes, actually has no clue what they are talking about.  (Yes, you could say that many have internalised the public’s opinion of academics in general…).  Apparently narcissism is an excellent trait to have as an academic, comes with thick skin and feelings of awesomeness… missed out on that one. After three months in the job, I pretty much realised I had no clue, and really should just be quiet, not make too much of a show of it, and keep at it, least I be discovered, outed, and banished from the tower.  You’re probably thinking, banishment probably doesn’t sound too bad if that’s the environment.  And seriously, you’re probably right.  But the problem with eroded confidence, and what we now get to name as impostor syndrome – yes, it is an actual thing whoopee! – is that wherever you go, it goes too.   So yay for me.  Now where did I put that bottle of narcissism and/or expert fakery? As a result, I haven’t written anything since the completion of the thesis.  Principally because writing stresses me out to the point where I literally cannot even sit at my computer.  Ridic-u-lous! Really.  And I know that.  We all have our dragons, apparently this is mine. Bear in mind that there are only two kinds of discursive positions for those in the academy – tenured academics who have the merit to have their position, and everyone else, who is either too green or too crap to have tenure.  (Evidenced by my institution classifying researchers like me as general staff (along with cleaners, baristas and the like) – not a classest statement, just a reflection on the institution’s conceptualisation of us – service providers), rather than as academic staff who do work with books and research and such.) Bear in mind too that neither of these discursive positions is accurate, but it does present a bit of a challenge about how to conceptualise yourself when there is no right-fitting space for you to locate yourself in.   It has taken a while to get my head out of framing myself as a student let alone anything else – so where I go from here is, well, a bit of a mystery. So, there we have it,  a complicated intersection of working with tenured giants, no discursive space to occupy, a need to make an income in a crazy work culture, and feelings of fakery that are fed by this intersection.  Yeah, no blogging, no brainer.  As for publications… really?  Whoa there young-un. So, sorry about that.   Doing my best to get over myself. Hence, a post. And an endeavour to start talking more. But with some caveats.  Some stuff may be on topic, off topic, no topic, huh? topic.  And I may talk out my ear.  Part of the academic fiction is expertise.  As much as some people may know more on some things than others, expertise… yeah, that’s problematic – I am not going to try and occupy that space.  I am going to talk through ideas, be wrong, get close to an insight, share some others thoughts, ask some questions, share some experiences, some theory, some research (mine and others) in an endeavour to engage in some knowledge transfer.  But expertise… yeah no.  I may be at the bottom of the academic ladder, but I know enough to recognise that expertise is contingent and context-specific, transitory.  But I also know that that shouldn’t stop any of us from talking. So, some blogs, and as part of the updates will be on where I’m at with getting results published in academic journals, and where you can find that material (open access where possible, drafts where not), in case you’re interested.  Be patient, this stuff takes time. Here’s hoping this actually results in something worth reading.  I make no promises!  But maybe we can get a conversation started.

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