I have to come to the realization that no matter how many times I hit a wall, it will surprise and hurt me every time.
Last night I opened an email letting me know that if I didn’t do the early registration for my field’s big annual conference that it would go up another $50. That got my attention and I quickly grabbed my credit card to pay for my ticket.
This is the early, discounted fee just for entrance:
With this “deal”, a plane ticket around Thanksgiving, lodging, and food (much less trying to find childcare and other expenses that other members don’t have to think about) … I’m looking at a price ticket well past $1,000. Weeeeelllll past.
And to add insult to injury, I’m going to be forced to email the chair of a committee I FOUGHT to get on (and have worked my butt off to contribute to even before our first official meeting)…A committee that has leaders in my field. A committee that signed me for a 3-5 year contract. A committee that a colleague put his name on the line to make sure that I got the final slot. A committee that picked me because I was getting job offers…I have to email that chair tomorrow and offer my resignation because I can’t afford to attend.
I can’t afford to attend because I don’t have a school sponsoring me.
I don’t have a school helping to pay my way because I am a mother.
Once again, I feel discarded. I feel yet another sting over the fact that I was fired. I feel so incredibly unwelcome and I feel like a failure.
I remember during my graduate work coming across an relevant article in a prestigious journal, but the author had “independent scholar” written under his name.
I asked my advisor what that meant and if I could still use it. He paused, rolled his eyes, and said: “That means he can’t get a job. Uggggggghhhhh….technically it’s fine, but let’s see if we can find a scholar who’s actually working.”
Let that sink in. His work didn’t matter. The fact that his work was peer reviewed and in a highly respected journal didn’t matter. He didn’t teach therefore he didn’t matter unless out of desperation.
We are inundated with the fact that the majority of scholars are adjunct–that tenure track positions are all but dead. Although adjuncting has been saturated by women and POC for decades, now everyone is in the pool barely making ends meet.
Yet the fact remains that one is not considered a real scholar with anything to contribute unless they have a tenure track job.
AND the essential benefits toward getting those very few remaining jobs that come from going to big conferences like this are not accessible to the people who need it most because the only real way to afford the ticket is to either have money from somewhere else or to have your school provide funds.
Rinse. Repeat the cycle.
So here I am. Again. Another wall, another closed door, another opportunity for me to feel so much less than.
On my best days I believe in the malleability of my degree and my contributions to the field. I truly believe I can still publish, provide new ideas, and push us all forward without having a teaching position. I believe that other options need to be available and validated in order for the field, graduate programs, and scholarship in general to have a viable future.
Unfortunately, I do not seem to be living in my best days this week.