I recently identified with this post at Tenure She Wrote on many levels. At the time I saw the post, I was literally elbow deep in a tedious research technique and seeing no end in sight. I’m in a better place now, and my thoughts these days turn to how this will all play out*. I’ve been giving 210% since January 8 and definitely am aware that this level of energy is not sustainable. I am on the tail end of bench experiments for my tenure projects (2 papers and a grant). When those are over I will move in to all writing all the time: the projects themselves as well as my tenure documents. The first batch is my external reviewer materials (major task: cover letter about the scholarly accomplishments included and how I’ve transformed my research field in the past 5 years) and the second batch is for P&T (major task: narrative about how I’ve transformed my institution and my research field in the past 5 years). I’ve read a little about how getting tenure is essentially this big let down, so I have been toying with the idea of a tenuremoon. As far as I can tell from google, this is a novel concept. Following with the birthing analogy, a tenuremoon would be a vacation away to reflect on the work life you’ve had prior to becoming tenured and rest/rejuvenate for the work life you will have after being tenured. I’ve been wondering when the best time for said tenuremoon would be. I imagine teaching will be a bit of a bear this semester because a) I am teaching two new preps, b) I’m serving as a mentor for our new teaching postdoc, and c) I’ve been selfish/research-driven and out of practice of teaching/advising for almost 30 weeks. If I was going to do such a thing, I would want to do it before the semester starts, but that is not going to be possible (I’ll be working up to the deadline for external review materials to be submitted and then classes start). The other option would be one of the natural breaks of the fall semester (Fall Break or Thanksgiving). I’d feel bad about Thanksgiving since that is usually dedicated family time, so that leaves Fall break. Usually I am frantically trying to catch up from the “hit the ground running” start of the semester during Fall Break, so if I was going to have a true break, I’d have to be pretty organized or be completely okay with not having my junk together this semester (she says not even having a concept of what that would mean or look like).
*Not so much whether or not I will get tenure–I am feeling more confident about that these days, mainly because areas of my scholarship are now finally working–but more the emotional/psychological aftermath.
What about you? How did you/would you celebrate a sustained time of hard work progressing toward tenure? Also, if you had a pre-tenure leave, how did you cope with getting back in the swing of things? Let us know in the comments!