Academia reminds me of Disney World: hurry up and wait. Going to Disney World as a child, my mom had us up at the crack of dawn to get to the parks early to get in line for the ‘good rides’ so we could take advantage of them before the crowd hit. While my mom is an extreme vacationer, she wasn’t wrong–the parks have new programs that you can pay for to get line bumped and offer deals during the ‘off season’ to entice folks to populate the parks for revenue. It’s still about the hurry up and wait. “Hurry, book your trip now!” Wait six months to save the money to afford the flights to go. “Hurry, offer ends soon!” Wait, we shouldn’t pull the kids out of school. “Hurry, you’ll miss the rides that we’re shutting down to renovate.” Wait, my child isn’t even tall enough to ride those rides, he/she is still in a stroller.
Before I get too far, I have to confess: I freakin’ love Disney World. No, Disney isn’t compensating me to write this or there’s no endorsement deal. I don’t have kids either. Childless by choice. Society thanks me 🙂
Back to the point. Academia=Disney World. Bear with me.
In academia, you go to grad school. You finish/quit/resign from whatever you’re doing. Grad school admissions are often slow, drawn out, and when you get notification: BAM! Pack it, quit it, re-route it, move it, and voila–you’re in grad school.
You get to grad school and hop on the merry go round or should I say, spin the wheel. Coursework moves along, assistantship work also moves, but oh wait–research. Hurry up and wait…….shucks. You read, synthesize, and form questions. Then, your advisor goes back through and butchers them appropriately. More waiting….I had the good fortune of a fantastic advisor and grad program, but there was still waiting involved. Mostly from my other committee members. Heck, I had to finish a semester late because I couldn’t corral my committee on the same day so I could defend. My border collie, Molly, couldn’t even round ’em up like she does at the farm. If a trained dog can’t, who can? Good grief!
Job hunting. Let’s say a few things about the ‘new’ economy. It totally sucks. It eats your soul. It makes you emotionally eat triggering more bad feelings. When you look at the file of ‘jobs you’ve applied for’ and the number tips over 50, you evaluate your life choices. Thanks ‘new’ economy. I hate you.
You land a job. Hurry up! Make a decision! Negotiate! Wait: you have lost all of your negotiating power thanks to the ‘new’ economy. It should be the ‘ewwww’ economy. You negotiate what you can and sign on the dotted line.
Deadlines, journal articles, collaborations, and grant proposals also fall into the dreadful category as well. You hurry up when RFP’s are released, you hurry up to write to send your piece of an article to your collaborators, and you scramble like an egg to submit to a conference by 11:59 p.m. EST and then WAIT.
Academia is just like Disney World. I’m still waiting for Mickey Mouse and Cinderella. Don’t burst my bubble and remind me they won’t be waiting for a photo op while I eat my Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream chipwich.