I’m sitting here in the middle of the night, staring at my computer screen. I wish I could sleep, or find rest, or pause because I’m just so tired of trying. I’m tired of hoping that I at least touch one life at a time, when my own life is slipping through the cracks. I am but a number within this discipline I’m so ambivalently drawn to, with the knowledge of a seemingly futile future. I keep reading blogs and articles about how black female philosophers are VERY few, and those that are out there have to constantly prove themselves WAY more than most within this discipline. I keep reading about the shorter lifespan, the dissolution of relationships, and the deterioration of the mind and drive of those of us who actually get a smidgen of recognition in the field. Though simultaneously, I keep seeing the blog posts and articles advising graduate students like myself to take the time for mental and physical health, to really sit and make sure this is what I want to do, and to basically keep working at my craft, and hopefully one day far from now I just might be able to touch the life of one of my future students in the way that my mentor(s) have touched mine (keep in mind this is a summation of many things that I’ve read over quite a while). So, basically, I am supposed to continue putting myself at risk of all these horrible outcomes (intra/interpersonally, physiologically, economically, socially, academically) so that I might have a chance to pay it forward? If unrest, an untimely death, a potentially futile life’s work, and struggle are things I get to encourage to my potential students, there would have to be more incentive there for them than, “If you are drawn to it, you should do it, even though the odds are stacked against you in several ways, and the fact that I’m teaching is a major feat in itself.” No, I don’t think what I’m drawn to do ought to be easy, but as a non-white, queer, poor person (these are just a few major identifiers I chose to use here), it seems like the odds are stacked against me, at least in my current position within these towers.
How do I take the time to make sure I’m okay, when it’s precisely those times that work against me? In the position I am in, I need to constantly be trying to get published, I need to constantly be researching the things I am wanting to dedicate my life’s work to. I need to make sure I NEVER stop networking, going to conferences, I need to help coordinate conferences. When I’m not doing those things, I need to focus on buffing up my CV, by promising myself to things like tutoring, applying to ANY internship opportunity (whether it is paid or not, most likely NOT), peer-reviewing, TA-ing, GA-ing, campus jobs, and volunteering for at least a couple non-profits that seem to be in line with what I am wanting to dedicate my life’s work to. When I’m not doing that, I need to make sure that I am broadening my knowledge of things, I need to make sure that I’m not a one-trick-pony, I need to make sure that I can speak about many different scholarly subjects in order to be more intelligible. When I’m not doing that, I have to make sure I am on top of my coursework, I have to make sure that my grades are stellar in order to even be acknowledged at programs I apply to. I have to be engaged in class (in the hopes of good letters of recommendation), make the time to come up with very thoughtful and diligent seminar papers. When I am not doing that, I have to keep ahead of my academic plan (my thesis planning, my financial ‘aid’, my pace within the program) to make sure that I am not thrown off by any snags or random changes in the flow. This is all not even mentioning all that goes into having to study for the GRE, researching potential programs to apply to, and actually applying to them. This is the basic struggle of the grad student. It is harder for those identifying as I do to have a chance at being intelligible. Don’t even get me started with the intelligibility complex within this discipline. So, yeah. When am I supposed to make sure I am alright? Which one of these things am I supposed to tell to fuck off for a bit while I make sure I’m okay?
I’m just sick of the contradictions. I’m sick of the fantasy of a future, when the reality is abysmal. I can continue writing and being active without the hypocritical cacophony that is the discipline I am alining myself to.
I’ve dedicated my life to the struggle. I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on. However, I can do that without appeasing the academic industrial complex. So can you.
Until Next Time Comrades,