And the old friend--let's be clear--is that omnipresent job-search sidekick, Self-Pity.
Yep, I've started skulking on down that thoroughly unpleasant path. I got a post-campus-visit rejection today. Not from the Dream Uni, but from the other one (visit no. 2), which I liked and thought seemed like a great job but where I didn't get that real sense of fit--so no, this isn't a devastating rejection, but it's still disheartening. It's disheartening because it reminded me of what it feels like: that sudden drop in the stomach, the evaporation of a particular set of daydreams, the clipping-off of one possible path that the future could take. Nope. I'm not moving there. Those will not be my colleagues. That isn't my office.
It also signaled the dramatic reduction of my chances of getting an offer from either place. Weirdly enough, if the selection process were totally random, my odds of getting one or both of these two jobs would be 5/9. Two jobs, three candidates--5 to 9 odds that I'd get something out of that. No, it doesn't seem like that should be right, but there it is; probability makes absolutely no sense. So now that I don't have one of the jobs, my chances have slipped back to 1/3. Right? Or is it still 5/9, only...no, wait, that can't be right. And of course this is pretending that the selection process is totally random, which it isn't. I could be a secretly toxic candidate. I could be juvenile and naive and admit way too much about myself too soon. Was I too forward? Am I too comfortable with my own shortcomings? Was that comment that I made about my hair taken as a sign of frivolity? Did anyone notice when I dropped that glob of hummus at the dinner? Oh dear God. Oh God. I want to crawl up under an afghan and weep. I want to crack into that bottle of bourbon over there. I don't want to grade, I don't want to prep two classes and a teaching demo, and what's this about a mandatory campus event tomorrow afternoon? I need to hide. I'm inept, I'm absurd, every hope has been dashed--dashed, I tell you.
See? This is what happens. This is what that damned rejection has done to me.
And oh yes, I remember it well. I remember last year, when I actively avoided junior faculty at my grad uni because of course they got fabulous jobs at GradU when they were ABD, and while I'm sure that their queries into my job search situation were wholly sympathetic, I was too bitter and wrecked by my failure to even get myself a campus visit to even look at such people. Oh yes. I remember all of this--the anger I felt at ABDs who got tenure-track jobs, the startling depths of my jealousy. It all passed, of course. It usually passed pretty quickly, like within 24 hours of each major disappointment, but when it was there, it was there. And I don't want to swim in those waters again.
But. It did pass, every time. And I know that disappointment is only disappointment, and I can handle it. It's just that awful feeling--that wrench, that deep desire to withdraw and hide and close oneself off from everything else until one has adjusted to the new bad news and everything is okay again--that's not something that I want. And I'm afraid that, by the end of the week, I'll have to absorb the fact that Heavenly U doesn't want me, and all that background hoping and wanting and imagining what I could do there will have to be abandoned, forever, and I'll fall back down to the dusty reality of not having found my job just yet.
Or, if not forever, at least until next year's JIL comes out.
This post nominated for age of perfection self-indulgent post of the year. Thanks for reading, guys.