More interviews. An offer that I successfully negotiated to a point where I am comfortable/happy about taking it. A major teaching award.

I should be over the moon happy, but reality is that mostly, I’ve just been queasy and anxious. That seems ungrateful, even to me, but there it is.

The teaching award really put me in a funk for about a week. I think it brought home the idea that you really can be doing outstanding work, and, if you are not a tenure-track or tenured person in our department, you are still not really valued by the department.

Looking at it from another perspective, and this is the one I would like to get fixed firmly in my head, this award represents how much I’ve meant to my students. One in particular. The students wrote letters for me. They are telling me that I made a difference, sometimes a big difference, in their lives. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to teach them and for the trust that they put in me. I am honored and grateful to be able to make that difference. I hope they know that they, too, have made a difference in my life.

On the job offer, I negotiated the salary to the point where I thought it was advantageous enough to me financially. The department chair himself told me to negotiate as hard as I could, and I did. It appears I pushed them as hard on salary as I could, hopefully while being polite, supportive, feminine — all the things women are required to be. Shouldn’t I be proud of that? So why do I feel kind of squicky about it now? Is it just that negotiating and asking for what you want is acting out of character for women? Is it the chilling news about the negotiation at Nazareth College that resulted in a rescinded job offer? I’m certainly familiar with the literature on women and negotiating, and that literature certainly makes it clear that often you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

That little voice in my head asks me if I have damaged relationships with colleagues by taking the chair at his word and asking for more than was offered. That little voice in my head says I was just doing what I am supposed to do. And it also says that life is not fair. My challenge is to find some peace and some path through all the things the little voice says.

Last the interviews. It was pretty obvious that the first school I interviewed at recently wasn’t as interesting as my current offer. The other one I liked a lot, but there are both perks and red flags with the position. First, the teaching load is lower. Second, they have a nice system of course buy-outs for pre-tenure faculty, even though they are a teaching school. Third, they are a department of 5 faculty nearing retirement, all of whom are greatly motivated to mentor me towards success. On the down side: the school has had financial problems in recent years. No raises. At one point, no contributions to the retirement fund for either a semester or year. There are reasons to believe it is on a healthier track. Things to seem to be getting better. On the other hand, there are also reasons to worry.

In any case, I find it unlikely they can get an offer together before I have to respond to the one I have.

It looks like a big decision is coming on Friday or later today to move to a new school and start a new position as a tenure-track assistant professor. I wish I felt less scared about it all, but big changes, even good changes, bring up a lot of anxiety. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to stay. The only way is forward. There will be many very difficult moments ahead, but that would be true no matter what. As Lois McMaster Bujold writes,

Tests are a gift. And great tests are a great gift. To fail the test is a misfortune. But to refuse the test is to refuse the gift, and something worse, more irrevocable, than misfortune.