Last year, my PhD viva-versary was a bit painful. I had assumed it would take about 5 years to establish my career, so when the 5 year mark rolled around, and I was still in a temporary, part-time contract, struggling to find time for research and publications, I felt like a failure.
This year is different. Everything is on pause. Covid-19 has changed everything, and Black Lives Matter has changed it all even further. The old measures of success (like a full-time, permanent contract) seem less important in the midst of a pandemic and a global reckoning with racism.
I’m using this time to read some Brené Brown and work through my perfectionism —the term “life paralysis” really hit home for me. It’s where you are afraid to put yourself and your work out into the world because you fear failure, and you do nothing. It’s why I struggle to write and publish, and why I don’t apply to jobs unless I’m fully qualified and experienced already.
I’m also using maternity leave for its intended purpose—to recover from the craziness that is pregnancy and childbirth, to embrace motherhood, and to look after these two little guys while they both still fit in my lap.
Academic careers are slow-burners—I’ve got all the time in the world.