Swan Song

Somehow it feels very appropriate that my final visit to the AAR/SBL annual meeting as a student member should coincide with the final joint meeting of the two scholarly societies.

I was distressed, and remain disgruntled, by the American Academy of Religion's unilateral move to schedule separate conventions. The decision was made at the beginning of my doctoral career, but doesn't go into effect until next year (planning these events are multi-year undertakings). So I committed myself, upon learning the dreadful news, to being ABD (and ideally having about a chapter and a half under my belt) by November 2007 so that I could be interviewing for jobs at this annual meeting.

So much for best laid plans.

I have no clue how the application and recruitment system for religion scholars will work after this year. But that's not my problem anymore. Guess it never really was.

As it happens, NOT interviewing at this meeting has been an absolute blast. I came in thinking of my attendance at this convention as a sort of ritualized farewell to the religion academy, but I've been having such a good time I'm thinking about joining SBL and continuing to go to their meetings just for the fun of it. (Admitted: I have a seriously warped idea of what counts as fun.)

As I've gone through the weekend, I've experienced a growing sense of confidence, peace, and even JOY (!) over my choice not to finish my Ph.D.

As I've shared my bombshell with various friends whom I had not previously told of my change in direction, the responses have ranged from guarded support to enthusiastic congratulations. (Some of that range can be attributed to a sort of feedback loop -- the first day, I felt a little shy and apologetic about being here with a Duke University name tag while I'm on my way out the door, and my confession echoed that. By yesterday afternoon, I was announcing my shift with a huge grin on my face. Free, free, I'm free at last...)

I do feel a twinge of loss and regret as I go to various presentations and get excited about the ideas discussed and the research projects I could have pursued had I stayed on track in academe. But none of that is causing second-guessing or self-doubt. And as I've had repeated conversations about what I'm doing now and what I might be doing next, a sense of direction for the future -- not an entire career plan, certainly, but a next step -- has been crystallizing.

This makes me happy.

Today I'm skipping out on the last two days of the conference to go spend Thanksgiving week with my family. That will make me happy, too.


David and Sarah said...

Lately, your blog has made me very happy :)

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