Tuesday, July 25
I share a house with an academic. We share some publications, and a bed, and an office, and some other things, and that's tough enough. I think the hardest thing to share is the limelight, especially when I feel like I'm in the shadows. I've been sharing things with him for a while, though, so I've grown accustomed to how it feels and how to cope with it.

Now I might have to share again.

My department is hiring in specific areas for next year. One happens to be an area where an old friend from undergraduate school has excelled. She is my friend. I should be excited that she's a front-runner for the position. I should be thrilled that someone who knows me so well might move here, to the middle of nowhere. I should be excited for her, that she's got the potential for getting a great job. I should be thrilled we're hiring another woman. I should feel like sharing.

I don't. I feel like the kid who got a new bike for their birthday and who doesn't want to let anyone else ride it. I'm not ready to share what I have.

Am I insane, or just insecure? Is this how every assistant professor feels when they're no longer the newest assistant, or is this because of our friendship? Maybe I'm just more competitive than I'd like to admit.


Scarlet said...

I don't think it's strange at all that you'd feel some ambivalence, but I bet if she ends up being there you'll be very glad she is. The bike when you were a kid was a zero-sum game, whereas the junior faculty like is all about assembling alliances.

fraud, in denim said...

Thanks, Scarlet. I was about to change the title to "it's my petty" after a conversation with my partner who would be unabashedly thrilled if anyone he knew showed up in his department.

I think you're right, that thinking about her coming produces quite a different emotion than what I would feel when she actually got here.

Orange Ina said...

That's a tough one. That is, why you're feeling the way you do. It sounds like she's a real friend. That is, not just one of those academic friends you've accumulated over the years who has their set of annoying quirks. But an old friend from pre-academic life.

I'd be thrilled if a good friend of mine was going to come to my dept. But I'm feeling pretty secure so I don't think I'd see anyone as competition. *knock on wood* Of course, that's by far not just about me, that has to do with my colleagues and how they make me feel.

But I'd only feel that way if it was a truly close friend. And I can think of several people who wouldn't qualify (who might otherwise seem like friends).

I agree with Scarlet though, this does not have to be a zero-sum game, I could see you getting a LOT out of this.

fraud, in denim said...

She was a real friend, and could definitely be one again. We still talk a couple times a year, and we know the best and the worst about each other.

However, I am wary of exclusive alliances in my position. I have been trying hard to balance - or not play facorites, however unsuccessfully - between the junior faculty I've interacted with since arriving here.

Clear said...

I would have killed to have someone I knew well show up in my department when I was a new faculty member. (And, no, I would not have killed the person I knew.)

thistle said...

I think it would be hard if my close undergrad friends all of a sudden showed up in my professional world. I've changed a lot, and they don't know the more-grown-up me.
(not actually all grown up, but farther along than in undergrad).

fraud, in denim said...

I think it would be hard if my close undergrad friends all of a sudden showed up in my professional world.

I think this is really at the heart of it. But I don't know that it's undergrad versus professional. It's not like either of us was partying hard in undergraduate school. We were both semi-serious students with jobs and internships.

It's more that we had more similarities back then than we do now, both personally and professionally. I do a completely different kind of work than she does, and it creates different pay-offs and publications. Plus, my life circumstances are different. I think that's what I'm scared of.

I remember comparing notes when we were applying to grad school (this gets back into how friendly to be with someone else on the job market). I don't want to feel like I'm comparing notes on tenure when it's apples to oranges.

Also, as ashamed as I am to admit it, when we were applying to grad school, I was the top candidate. When it comes to tenure, I'm not so sure. Thank you for reminding me that it's not a zero-sum game, though, and that if she comes we're not it competition, but in cahoots.

Turquoise Stuff said...

When it comes to tenure, I'm not so sure.

I can't imagine how you could possibly know. Tenure is so not straight-forward at most places that the two of you would have to have _very_ different records for this to be obvious. Not just generally different (different in and of itself can mean little in this context), but super different in the realm of accomplishments.

Salmon Ella said...

I can totally relate to this post. I often wish that I lived closer to some of my good friends from college, but at the same time I wonder how odd it might be if we actually did. Even though we've stayed close, we still have our separate lives, and I'm sure there would be a certain amount of friction if we actually lived in the same city. Add to that working in the same place and the same department, and I'm sure I would definitely start to feel territorial. I can totally understand your trepidation. At the same time, if this is a really good friend (or at least a potential really good friend), it could turn out to be really great situation for you. And while you may have a sort of adjustment period, hopefully it all works out in the end. :)

Blog Archive