Sunday, July 9
Academia is small. We know this. But then on occasion we realize it's even smaller than we think. Smaller than we realize. Way smaller than we'd like.

It's inevitable that we won't like everyone in our field. Who likes everyone around them? Anyone who claims to like everyone around them is disingenuous. (Which, mind you, is a reason to dislike that person in case there weren't any other reasons already.)

Academic circles don't change that much. People don't switch careers that often. That grad school peer who annoyed you on the first day of class will be around to annoy you forty years after you defended your dissertation. That commenter on your paper at your first conference will be around to ask annoying and irrelevant questions at your 100th talk. That colleague who does work similar to yours and is annoyed that you are more productive than he is will always find reasons to trivialize your next accomplishment.

We have to put on a happy face. We have to meet and greet these folks. Okay, if they are really bad you can start ignoring them. But rarely are people that bad. So you continue to smile and pretend that you like them even though you know they dislike you as much as you dislike them. You go as far as to pretend that you are friends. Then in between sessions at the annual meetings, you run to the bathroom, because certain expressions just wouldn't be pleasant in the middle of a hotel lobby.

And in the meantime, all you can do is hope that these are not your real friends, because if this is all you've got then it really wasn't worth it.

7 comments:

Cerise said...

I retain hope that some of the people who really annoy me in grad school are not going to make it out. I know that I'm probably overly optimistic.

Turquoise Stuff said...

Cerise, I sometimes think annoying people may be even more likely to stay in academia than the pleasant ones since their bs wouldn't be tolerated elsewhere either and so they stay. It's kinda depressing. (Is it supposed to say anything about us?)

Clear said...

Seems worse to imagine being stuck with colleagues you don't like in a situation where you are tenured and can't leave than being stuck with people who you just see at conferences once in a while.

Cerise said...

The thing is, I have this very judgmental tendency to be annoyed by people who are stupid. Don't think I'm saying that I think stupid people can't make it in academia, because that would be crazy. But I mean the REALLY stupid people. Surely SOME of them are going to get eliminated.

kodachrome said...

In my world, it seems like the folks who are the most tallented at being annoying are the ones who are most likely to become entrenched. People (especially chairs and deans) will give them things just to get them to go away, so pretty soon you'll find yourself standing in the mailroom listing to one of these people tell you about his or her center for the study of the stupidest thing on the planet, and you'll think... Could I be that annoying if I tried? But... Happy Face!

atomic tangerine said...

and so often the most annoying people are the most schmoozy ones, the ones who think they're going to be real movers and shakers in the field if they just suck up to enough people. so not only are they annoying, they're in your face ALL the time.

bittersweet said...

ahhhh. . . i just found this blog today and am loving the honesty. i am a grad student at dissertation writing stage at a big researh university and am relieved to hear others bitch about the "yea! we're buddies because we are in the same field" phenomenon. i'm not good at doing the fakey thing so my annoyance probably often shows.

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