Or, Be That Person
Have One, Be One
So much for punching today in the face (really, I had the best intentions). After sitting in a series of meetings all day, one (yup, one) of my colleagues asked how I was doing, how is my summer, what's going on. With that, I told him the truth. It hasn't been an easy one (I keep telling myself that there's still time to resurrect my favourite time of year).
A few weeks ago, I received two revise and resubmit notifications. By the grace of all that is good in the world, I finished them both inside of ten days. However, I must be clear. That's not why I've been so uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter. Lordy knows I would have a great deal to say about the frustrations of the requisite joy and pain of revise and resubmits. Also, the weather here in Ontario has been more rotten than not, so I haven't been sitting on the beach and swimming in lakes like we thought we'd be. It's because some personal stuff has blown up in my face.
My Colleague Was There.
So, this lovely colleague asked how things were going, and how awesome is it that none of the news or struggles about the revise and resubmits even came up. He assured me that I'm not as horrible as this drama has made me feel, and that I didn't need to consider myself an idiot for being totally vulnerable when he asked - with sincerity - how I was doing. I have lots of friends, though most are not academics, and somehow there was something beautiful about this colleague asking after me (and not running away when I didn't say, "I'm great!").
Silence and Fear
I wasn't anticipating sharing much of my personal struggle with my colleague, probably because I wasn't sure how I could without melting down. Nor was I really planning on saying anything here about how I'm having a hard time figuring out the joy and pain of my personal life (revise and resubmits are way easier). And yet. Audre Lorde (1977) wisely tells us that breaking silence takes courage, and comes with a sense of danger. This danger looks like fear of criticism, of judgement, of being challenged or injured or hurt. I broke the silence with my colleague. And what do you know, there was no judgment, no criticism, no injury.
Be That Person
Let's face it, academia is an interesting place. We have the opportunity to stay in our offices, our silos, our own academic niches. Today, a difference for me was one colleague asking what was up. And breaking the silence made all of the difference. In the virtual #AcademicTwitter community, take the lead from my friend Ellie Mackin and spread academic kindness. So many academics work to create, find, and share beauty in this crazy place -- here are a few: Raul Pacheco-Vega, Rissa Sorensen-Unruh, Aaron Langille. All I need to say here is that we all can be a difference to a colleague. And if someone in your hallway or on your messaging app tells you their story, just give them a hug (even virtually), tell them they're courageous, and know that academia is full of real people having real lives outside of this so-called Ivory Tower.
This job is odd. Keep it real.
This job is odd. Keep it real.