8.16.2007

Beyond Normal

I know I promised new dating stories this week, but, a crisis hit. My sad adjuncting/graduate student career and the suffering which has ensued as a result of it, may have reached an end. An end for which I am not prepared.

This summer, I had no classes to teach. That means I had no income. That is a very bad thing. In late April, I began looking for summer work, temp jobs or a more stable full time job. I did nothing but look for a job this whole summer. Very, very depressing. Rejection after rejection.

Now, a 6 inch high pile of bills sits on my coffee table. I can't even make myself open the envelopes. My cell phone got shut off this week. (Actually a good thing because all 7 of my credit cards called me constantly wanting their money.) As a teacher in the state of NY, I do not qualify for unemployment benefits. So I used my credit cards for food, rent and transportation. Then my credit ran out. My pops spotted me some cash for rent.

Meanwhile, one company began interviewing me in June. They made me take an IQ and spelling test and then sent this whole packet to my house that took me 8 hours to complete. 5 interviews later, they offered me the Admin Assistant job on Monday. It pays 40k and has great benefits.

So? I have 5 classes scheduled to start in two weeks. My take home pay should be equivalent, minus benefits. I do not want to sit in a windowless crowded cubicle for 40 hours a week. I do not want to be a secretary. I have started to enjoy teaching again. Though my schedule this fall will be absolutely brutal.

I don't know what to do. I had a blessing last week from the missionaries. I've prayed and prayed. The day after they made their offer, when I told the recruiter I needed two days, he called me saying they needed to know by 5 pm. So I said I wasn't going to be pressured into it and if that's how they are going to be then my answer is 'No'. He flipped out. Many phone calls and emails later --he ruined my whole day, they decided to give me more time because they really want me. I even had to go cry in the bathroom after I turned the job down.

I heard myself turning down the solution to almost all of my problems. A steady paycheck, structure, schedule, easy job, easy commute, health insurance... The company is ridiculously employee-friendly, they told me I could take a few more weeks before I start to give the schools time to find a replacement for me. That made me think it would be foolishness to turn them down.

The choice is more complicated than it appears. They seem to be equally bad and equally good choices.

What scares me about the corporate job: That I won't be able to get back into academia when I want to, that I am throwing away my ticket to a full-time professor job in Brooklyn, that the cubicle will drive me crazy, that I will feel like crap about myself for 'selling out', that this may put me back on the road to crazy-town... having just emerged from my 3 year stint there, this thought terrifies me. Also, I am not good at being a secretary. I will have to get back on Ritalin to control my severe ADD. Feeling incompetent is very very bad for my emotional stability.

What upsets me about turning down the job: This means I am choosing to continue to suffer, struggling every month to find an affordable shrink, pay 3-400 each month for my meds, the breaks between semesters when I have no pay, having no guarantee of any employment the following semester or the amount of employment, the total exhaustion from teaching 5 classes at two campuses, the running around, the fact that I do not seem capable of doing my own research while I am teaching (because I want nothing to do with it by the time I get home), which means I will never finish my doctorate or get out of this hole.

Why do I want to teach? Because I am basically my own boss, no cubicle, no office building, no 40 hour week, sometimes I have fun, it is satisfying, and it is important work that matters. I know I can survive this without going crazy, because I survived last semester, although, I have more classes in the fall and will teach everyday instead of 3 days a week. This devil I know. I love having colleagues that I respect and enjoy talking to. My confidence is coming back and I'm starting to feel like a good teacher again.

Not knowing how long my emotional stability will last this time, makes the decision incredibly difficult. The corporate job is a gamble, which could pay off tremendously. The teaching job sucks, but I know I can handle it --(Maybe).

So, not much eating or sleeping. I have to make a decision ASAP. My head hurts.

8 comments:

danithew said...

JL, I wish you the best in what you are going through. It sounds like there are some really hard decisions to make.

It sounds to me like you at least have some ideas of what you are looking for in a job and that you don't easily give up on your real interests.

dakwegmo said...

I can't tell you what to do, but I think your instinct about how tough it will be to get back in to academia is dead on. One of the things that happens when you have money coming in, is that you get used to living that lifestyle. If you think choosing academia is tough now, imagine how hard it would be once you have obligations equal to your corporate income level.

I'm speaking from experience, I've had to delay enrolling in graduate school for two years now, because there was no way to meet all of my financial obligations on the pittance I would earn as a student.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like they BOTH suck, are both gambles, and both could pay off tremendously. Maybe.

Yikes.

Suzie Q said...

I currently work as an administrative assistant-in a secure company with benefits. I can say that the trade-off of not doing my passion is worth it. I have health issues and I know I have insurance. When my doctor prescribes a new medication, I know I can afford it. I can just say that the security is worth the trade-off for me. I see it as what is the point of doing something I love if I am homeless in 6 months. This is just my experience that I am sharing. I am not saying that is what you should do.

Having said that, I wish you luck deciding what decision is best for you and that you can live with.

Diana said...

How long has it been since you had insurance and financial stability of the kind the job offers? It might be something that feels good for you for a while. If it's a good company (or even a semi-crappy one), then any position is just a starting position. You would probably not be an admin forever. You could start there and move into other jobs that pay more and are perhaps more interesting. And many if not most corporate jobs require ritalin if you're ADD, not just admin ones IMO.

The question is, how passionate are you about academia? About the area you study? If you're passionate about it, then make the sacrifice. If you're up to it - and make sure you're up to it. Your health, physically, mentally, emotionally, are really the most important things - as you know. When you don't have any/all of those, life becomes so much harder.

This should not be taken as a reco to stick with or reject academia, or to take or reject the job. Just some thoughts I had. NB that I gave up academia for corporate many years back and I have not regretted it. My friend did the same and was utterly miserable. Only you can know.

Good luck to you.

Harold C. Hutchison said...

I am in somewhat of a similar situation training up for a new job that will have more financial and intellectual reward than my current job.

For me, it is no contest. But it is going to be a little tight to do that and to take care of other things.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be honest and tell you to take the job. You won't be selling out because you know it's just a way to get some $$ and insurance while you finish your PHD. Once you finish with your PHD you can become a full-time professor.

Kevin Barney said...

So what did you end up deciding to do?

(If the decision is still in play, I vote for the job, to give you some stability and insurance, but that's just my own inclination. I once gave up academia for a nonacademic profession, and I have no regrets.)