Exhaustion 101


There was a time I was sleeping eight hours a night, enjoying coffee, and generally enjoying a leisurely pace. That lasted 2.8 days. It’s gone. Like a distant memory, my ‘vacation’ ended abruptly when I signed up to get on a plane and fly away for academic business.  Two easy commuter flights turned into NINE boarding passes.  I’m not the only person in the world traveling, trust me, I’ve seen some travelers who have a much harder time getting from point A to point B than I have.

I’m sitting on a plane waiting on engine trouble and I’m in road warrior hell. This is just part of the game right?  I see hundreds of thousands of other professionals traveling in these airports-most are dressed much more professionally than I am.  That leads me to  my next question: how in the HELL does one stay erect, put together, and looking extra fashionable in a full suit and italian loafers or three-inch stillettos and a dress straight off of the runway?  I have trouble keeping it business casual in my khaki’s and (hopefully) clean blazer to meet colleagues at the terminal.  Perhaps it’s experience, perhaps those people don’t have over active (or active at all) sweat glands, perhaps my road warrior status needs to be revoked until further notice.

Whatever it is, here I am.  Now, (two hours later) I’m sitting in a large terminal that thankfully has free wi-fi.  I should be reviewing grants or editing an article, instead I’m blogging.  My brain hurts.  My backside is sore from the merry-go-round of beds I’ve been sleeping on or the lack of sleep my whole body has been getting. What is it about academic traveling that is so great yet so exhausting?  It is the stuff that book-ends it?  The flights? The lines? The “disney world” like atmostphere?

Whatever it is, this is what I know right now: I can’t wait to be home.  PIC is clearly lonely, his comments were hilarious yesterday, “I’ve been alone almost all week! Of course I need someone to talk to!” I feel the same way. Not that I wasn’t in good company all week, but I could go for a shower that didn’t result in a nervous sweat, a meal that’s home cooked, and conversation with someone who understands my gibberish (or is it jibberish?) without me having to detail every nuance of my latest thought in my tiny brain.

Which leads me to my other point on this post: freaking EGO.  Holy hell people.  CALM DOWN!!!  Your ego is large enough for everyone.  You’re not smarter, cooler, hipper, or let me repeat SMARTER than anyone else in the room. When you engage with me in a ‘scholarly debate’ and at a certain point I tell you, “we’re just going to have to agree to disagree” that isn’t code for, ‘yell at me louder to get your point across’ because I shut down.  We’re done. Peace out sucker. Peace the f&%k out…..It’s not just academics.  It’s people in airports too.  What happened to common courtesy?  Line cutting.  Rude college kids heading on trips to Aruba paid for by a magic piece of plastic. Moms breastfeeding next to the TSA security check.  I’m all about the feminist movement, young people heading out on a summer vacation, and everyone needing to get re-booked, but HELLO!!!!  Stop being so dang rude.

While probably not helpful, I made a point to thank all of the folks who line cut last night after one of my flights was cancelled.  You know what? The flight was still cancelled and no one was going anywhere.  I hope they feel better!

Road warrior status in academia is a stripe we’ll all earn as new faculty.  Much of the pressure is self-inflicted because we want to prove ourselves and no matter what anyone says or how they dismiss it, they don’t show up to look like a schmuck.  They show up with their ‘game face’ on ready to try and out-smart you. Whether it’s academics or line cutters, new faculty (and every human being) are subject to different types of exhaustion.  Earning road warrior status is just an imaginary badge/medal, but you know what? I’d take a medal right now and probably sleep with it tonight.  Provided I can sleep with it in my own bed.

As a new faculty, how do you prepare for the gauntlet of academic travel?  How do you manage to keep everything moving when travel plans halt?

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One thought on “Exhaustion 101

  1. Mom says:

    Be thankful you’re not a business person who has to do the airport routine EVERY week!

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