Creative Ways to Experience Anxiety

I received another thank you letter from a student today. They've been very sweet about my departure. One of the students this morning told me they want tow write a letter demanding millions so the school could keep me. I told them it wasn't entirely about money.

And in the midst of it, I began to fret about what all these student letters might mean. There are some commonalities to them, after all. First, they tend to come from working class students (though this isn't particularly unusual here as most of the students are). They tend to be from students who struggled as part of their time here. And they tend to be from students who have been casting about for what they want to do.

The connections aren't particularly surprising. I was a working class kid, though I didn't quite realize it until the middle of my undergraduate. I struggled quite a bit myself. Between the freedom that college offered, the first true romances, and the working load that comes with putting yourself through as a working class kid who doesn't know any better, it was a struggle to get out of and a shock when I actually went back to school. I started out pre-med, jumped to a much more liberal arts focused degree, and took enough outside classes to have had five minors had the university allowed it.

And then I thought about what I know about the student population at the New Job, and those things aren't particularly present. Most of them don't seem to be working class. I'm told they all have very well-defined goals of where they want to be. What if my teaching doesn't match up?

Really, there's no way to know until I'm there and into the swing of it. And it's fair to say that it wasn't until maybe a year into my time here that I started to click with students, so it could take awhile anyway. But I think the impending departure has had weird reverberations on my thought processes. I was telling a colleague today that I think I might be grading senior seminar papers with a little nostalgia grade boost. And the other day, I tried to explain why a big goodbye party creeps me out.


5 Responses to “Creative Ways to Experience Anxiety”
Post a Comment | Post Comments (Atom)

life_of_a_fool said...

I worry about such things, were I try to leave my current job. The things I would want to get (stronger support for research) don't tend to co-occur in universities with my student population (urban, working class). I really like the student population here (for the most part), and think I would have a harder time with more privileged students.

May 8, 2009 at 5:31 PM
ash said...

I hear you, but my suspicion is that your new students will need you, too--even if it is for different reasons. The (relatively) privileged, goal-oriented kids will benefit from your wisdom and experience.

May 11, 2009 at 10:10 AM
adjunct whore said...

maybe even especially in hoity toity land, your working class students will need you and find you.

don't take this on--you're obviously a great teacher and will be a better one when in a place that makes you happy.

congratulations, by the way.

May 19, 2009 at 1:07 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Thanks for the 'grats. It's funny the way we find ways to be nervous. Someone stressed me out the other day, suggesting that because I'd be the new low man on the totem pole in a down economy, maybe I'd be the first to be let go. Ugh.

The end of this term has been ridiculously gratifying in terms of the student response, and I'm trying to keep that in mind. I do hope that I can do some of the same things at the new place that I've been able to do here.

May 20, 2009 at 1:50 PM
Sabine said...

Hi Dr. Curmudgeon,

It sounds like your job switch is still staying within the walls of the university, but I'm in the process of letting academic bloggers know about Leaving Academia (, a website I've set up for grad students and faculty who are considering transitioning into non-academic careers. It's got lots of how-to stuff (like turn your CV into a resume) but it covers a lot of the emotional aspects of leaving, too. Just wanted to let you know (there didn't appear to be an option of emailing you from your site).

Best of luck with your new job!

June 9, 2009 at 3:04 PM