Friday, March 14, 2014

My inner monologue, courtesy of the job market

You are worthless and valueless.  You have slid by the skin of your teeth into a book contract, but even that is not saving you from failure.  You have a book coming out this year, and no one wants to hire you because you suck.  If you didn't suck, you wouldn't be facing the prospect of unemployment this summer.  Worthwhile academics who have written books get jobs.  Ergo, if you have written a book and do not already have a job, you are not worthwhile.  QED.

Everything you have done for the last twelve years of your life is meaningless.  You are meaningless.  Your own society accords you no value at all, and you have only yourself to blame for your mediocrity and imminent failure.  You dishonor everything you care about every time you show your face out of doors.  You deserve to fail.

 Your increasing economic marginality reflects your irrelevance to your own discipline.   To your profession.  To your society.  To your family, probably.  To the universe.  You are worthless.

You are a FAILURE who has FAILED because you have NO WORTH and NO VALUE and NO MEANING.  Your DISHONORABLE existence on this planet is POINTLESS.  You have FAILED as a person.  You are a FAILURE.

Brought to you by my psyche and the antidepressants that are holding worse things at bay.


  1. That's bullshit. Academia is just a job. The rest of the world pays better and treats people with more respect. You are not a failure. The humanities academic job market is random and it has failed you, not the other way around.

  2. nicoleandmaggie are right. It's just a job. I think about leaving constantly. CONSTANTLY. Even when I get a good break or good evaluations, it still is discouraging to be in this business. I go to weekly therapy because I am so stressed about my job. It's not a panacea.

    You are amazingly qualified. You are not worthless. It took me years to get my crappy little job. Years!

    Also, I am sending you a job ad for a think tank in DC that a friend of mine works at. It's a stretch, but wtf? Apply.

  3. I was where you are, and I decided that I was too good to be treated like shit by the job market. You are also far too smart, nice, and accomplished to be put through the wringer like this. Tell academe to go fuck itself and take your gifts (of which there are many) where they'll be valued and respected. Go to a place where you as a person will be admired and fairly compensated for what you have to offer.

    I can't say this enough: I have absolutely ZERO regrets about my decision. It is admittedly so hard to see what exactly you are going to do outside this little narrow world we dug ourselves into, but believe me: You are wanted. Somewhere. By someone. Be brave and find that place.

    We can talk more if you want specific advice. I want for you to be happy and fulfilled, as do many others. Please want that for yourself!

  4. Noooooo! You are awesome, believe it! I wish we had a job here I could give you (even though intro to pseudology at a cc would be, well, meh), but we are doing hiring in different social science areas this year.

    Hang in there! Your job has nothing to do with your worth and intrinsic awesomeness!

    Sending hugs and chocolate!

  5. What they said! Not getting a TT job says nothing about your worth as a person or a scholar. Thinking good thoughts for you, and keeping my fingers crossed.

  6. OMG What everyone else has said! Dr. Koshary, it is NOT YOU. Nicoleandmaggie said it best just by saying the truth - academia is just a job. You have worked so hard, and you have so many talents, and you are incredibly hire-able outside of this bullshit. I do not regret for a second my decision to drop out, and I want you to seriously consider what others have mentioned above about think tanks in DC, or other kinds of work (perhaps still inside the academy, like in an international office - I can help here!). For the love of all that is good and holy, please, please, please do not do this to yourself. You have been failed - you did not fail. You are epic, and you cannot let this shithole system destroy your spirit. Love you and please don't hate yourself. You are impossible to hate. Turn that rage OUTward. This system is a long interminable nightmare for tons of people. You are NOT alone. (BTW, have you ever checked out Karen Kelsky's business The Professor Is In?) LOVE! Andrea

  7. Aw, shit. I got nothing to add to the wise words above, except to say that there's real truth to the metaphor that likens academia/the academic job market to a bad relationship. When you're in a shitty relationship, you feel like shit. It distorts your sense of self and the way you value yourself and the things you value *about* yourself; there's no perspective except that of the ungrateful love object (who--isn't it always the way? is never ALL THAT to begin with).

    Only you know if it's time to leave. But know that the self that the job market is reflecting back to you isn't you real self; it's a distortion caused by the fucked up object that's doing the reflecting.

  8. First time commenter here, chiming in to say that you are not alone. I'm in the final stages of a literature dissertation, and I've never been so deflated or trusted my instincts less than during this wretched, wretched process. I feel intellectually ridiculous every day, or at least some portion of every day. And that's without having done a single job application; that's just from the dissertation itself! I can only imagine what being on the academic job market does to the ego. I have young kids (a 2-year old and a 1-year old), so it's possible that even if I do go on the market, by the time I'm ready, my degree will be old enough to make my profile even less cutting-edge than it is. And with that, yup, a fresh new wave of low spirits! I'm getting very good at making *that* kind of wave.

  9. Thanks, everyone. (And welcome, Patsy!) I'm giving your comments some serious thought.