The Freedom to Think



My sister was in town for work and we hooked up for dinner. Less than an hour from my place, it was no trouble at all. The food: amazing. The drinks: excellent. The company: WHINY!!!

It was great to see her, meet her colleagues, and enjoy some great food, drinks, and a whole lotta WHINE!!! I didn’t order near enough cheese to accompany the onslaught of negativity that I faced. For almost two hours: they complained. (yes, i realize we’re all whiny pants now and again, but i’m going somewhere w this, bear w me).

  • About work.
  • About people AT work.
  • About life AT work.
  • About everything work related.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see my sister and I’m glad we could get together, but as I sat there listening to each of them air their grievances FOR ALMOST TWO HOURS, I began to wane….it made me think about my job and my work and how I tell people about it.




As academics we have the luxury of being able to think about what we want, research what interests us (most of the time), and discuss our platform with our students, and keep moving forward. Yes, there are guidelines and time frames. Yes, there’s a mountain of expectations, increased assessment, and a host of other parasitic like expectations, but it’s really nice to be able to go to work and do something that I find value in each and every day.

I’ll play my own devil’s advocate here and say maybe they just needed to air it out for a bit, but it got so daunting, I couldn’t wait for the meal to finish. My sister is in HR and there’s a mountain of rules and regulations to follow that I just don’t have to deal with. I grew so impatient that I flagged down the server to start the process of splitting the check just so speed up the process.

As summer comes upon us and we all trudge through the last of the grading, celebrate with our students at commencement, and wave goodbye to the students so we can enjoy some summer, it’s important that we take a moment to celebrate one of the most important aspects of our profession:

 The freedom to think.

As I sat there and listened to my sister and her colleagues I was very thankful for the ability to stretch my brain space each day. I continue to be thankful to have earned my education and have support from many areas of my life to pursue things that make me personally and professionally satisfied.

As you wade through the final weeks of your semester, hopefully you can find a moment to be thankful for the freedom to think.

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