Reassigned Time 2.0

The Pleasures of Being Mid-Career(ish)

I know I never write anymore.  I feel guilt about that, I do.  And I don’t think the drought in posts will last forever, but it’s happening now because I’m in a transition phase and I might actually, depending on how things go, “come out” and blog under my actual name, in some fashion, at a time in the near future.  Though maybe not.  We’ll see.  But another reason I haven’t really written is mostly that I’ve been super busy, and when I’ve had time to blog I’ve been too tired to blog.  Whatever.  I’ve got something to write about today.

I’ve worked at my current institution in a tenure-track role for 11+ years, now, and I am now experiencing something that is one of the most delightful things I’ve experienced as an academic.  I love the fact that I am now in a position where I have former students with whom to connect to current students or recent grads for mentoring.  I strongly believe that it is a problem for me to be the One True Mentor to my students.  I want them to follow a path that is true to them, and I know that if I am the only voice they hear that it can be difficult for them to find their own way.

In the past month, I’ve been able to connect up some current/recent students with former students who graduated about 5 years ago who actually have done or are doing the things that my current/recent students want to do.  Why is this so meaningful to me?  A few reasons.

  1. I love that I maintain relationships with my former students to the extent that they are willing to mentor students I have right now.  I feel like that should be the norm rather than the exception, but it isn’t.  I care about what my former students are doing and have done, and I care about keeping in touch with them.  And it turns out that the benefit of this is that I can call on those relationships to help the students with whom I am currently working, even though that isn’t why I maintained those relationships in the first place.
  2. I might have good advice to give, but I don’t know all the things, and I know that I don’t know all the things.  It is so nice to be able to defer to people who know more than I know, have more experience than I have, and to indicate to my students that I am not the authority.
  3. I feel like connecting up these people models the fact that it takes a village to find success in one’s life.  You can’t depend on one person to make your life happen: you need lots of support.

So I’m overwhelmed and I’m tired and I’m really freaking busy.  But I’m really happy that the work that I do allows me to connect students that I’ve taught across the years.  That is really and truly satisfying.