1) I love to teach; it is as much a part of my identity as any other aspect of my personality or role (mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc). Not being in front of the classroom (or on the pool deck) is like I am missing a part of myself. When I am teaching/coaching, I feel like I have come home, come to the place where I was meant to be.
2) I need to write. My husband, as much as I love him and as encouraging and supportive as he has been, sometimes doesn’t get my blogging, especially when I choose to blog over, say, sleep. Don’t worry about it, he tells me, it doesn’t matter. But it matters to me, insofar as I am a writer as much as I am a teacher. Writing initially was a way to make up for the fact that I wasn’t teaching. It’s become so much more. I used to write almost daily in journals before going to sleep, during classes when I was supposed to be paying attention (take that, texting haters!), and in long, unsent letters. Now, I write and I have an audience, which leads me to lesson number three…
3) I love social media. And by this, I mean blogging, tweeting, and just basically sharing stuff and being a part of a community even though I live out in the middle of nowhere (which, ironically, is where most people claim there is still a strong sense of community). I have made more friends, learned more things about everything, and felt more welcome and accepted than I have in a very long time. We can debate the merits of “real” friends over “virtual” friends until we’re all blue in the face, but my extended community has helped get me through this very challenging year.
4) I am thankful that I was essentially unemployed for most of 2010. If I had been teaching, I wouldn’t have tried to start my own business, which lead me to start my own blog and get on Twitter. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention, and I reinvented myself (at least, my academic self) this year because of the necessity of unemployment, that loss of a large piece of how I understood who I was, who I still am. Unemployment forced me to let go and finally be myself.
5) I still have a ways to go. I talk a big talk about reinventing and reimagining higher education and how we teach and learn. I want to help change how instructors who are off the tenure-track are treated in higher education. I am continually frustrated by how most professors and administrators have basically given up on positively changing the university for the better and accepted the “new normal” because they have that luxury as their own jobs are protected. But at the end of the day, I struggle with how I can not just talk about change, but actually be the change. I’ve written extensively about fear and, although not explicitly, about failure, and what that means to my career, to my husband’s career, to my family, and to me personally. The University of Venus gave me a new audience to share my views; now I just have to figure out how to use it more proactively, rather than just being one more voice screaming into the wind.
Happy New Year, everyone. Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, thank you for commenting, thank you for caring. May 2011 bring you joy, and if not, may you find the strength to emerge from whatever the year throws at you wiser and stronger.