Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reality Check

"Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions, without occupation, without diversion, without effort. Then he feels his nulity, loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, emptiness." - Blaise Pascal

Today, after receiving my first rejection from a journal, the feeling that I've chosen the wrong occupation is only getting stronger. My rational mind knows this is just a temporary setback, and that I wasn't able to beat the immensely steep odds of actually getting an article published; thankfully, the editor was also quite nice about the rejection, which amounts to the sugar-coating of a sublime English accent (think Mary Poppins delivering the news). My rational mind also knows that this setback does not mean I am a terrible sociologist. I just got offered a tenure-track job that had decent pay/benefits a week and a half ago that I decided to turn down. So, the rational mind (and my fiancee), says to pick myself up and try to get it published somewhere else. This is all rational, but there's the problem of the heart and the head not agreeing right now.

The problem, at its root, is that I feel about my job the way Pascal described idleness above, and I've felt this way for a very long time. I'm good at pushing it away, trying to hide it under the carpet, but ultimately that sense of lethargy is what got me here in the first place: nulity (check), loneliness (check), inadequacy (check), dependence (check), helplessness (check), emptiness (check).

However, I do not feel such lethargy at other times, like when I'm doing traditionally feminine activities, and sometimes when I teach. Otherwise, I feel like I walk through my sociological life in a fog.

I know that I do not desire to be a housewife, but I'm becoming increasingly convinced that neither do I desire to be a sociologist. Science is a noble pursuit and leads to important conclusions, but I'm just worn out. I'd like to have the enthusiasm to carry out Mandino's call, and perhaps tomorrow I will:*

"Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity, but with it you can accomplish miracles." - Og Mandino

*Come on, now, my moniker on this site is Practicing Idealist, after all.


Beth said...

I'm sorry you got rejected, but you still do rock! I know the feeling. Sometimes you want to do the work, other times the work seems to do it to you. And not in the good way.

TDEC said...

I recognise the feeling. Domestic tasks (oh, particularly tidying up) do have a way of straightening one out a little. But I am not sure from what you say whether you are temporarily desillusioned or just fed up in general. If it is a question of wondering whether you are good enough at what you do, then screw that, of course you are; and remember to assess yourself the way you would another - it's amazing how much better people look without self-scrutiny. If, however, you really have no enthusiasm for what you do, then it's not worth it. Enthusiasm is what makes it all worthwhile, and academe isn't such a splendid place without it. But hey, who am I to tell you this anyway.

-s said...

don't fret...i'm the most enthusiastic person i know--but i'm manic--and so it probably doesn't count. i'm also pathetic--having been accepted to a rockstar program and then turning it down because i know i'm not smart enough to finish it....enthusiasm is over rated. ;-p (dig the chick in the butter churning costume. if i had one of those i'd be churning right now!)

bookmobile said...

We are in a very similar psychological place, PI. I did not realize that when I was talking to you the other day, when I mention that I had not read your blog recently, due to my recent boredom with blogs in general.