The new academic year is imminent. I am far, far from the headspace I would like to be in. I feel gutted and exhausted. Very, very empty. (Compounding this is the demise of my 6-year relationship...for real this time...I haven't blogged about it because I couldn't bear to add another thing to the litany of disasters, and because I also can't bear to write about it in this forum, but there you have it. It is a tragedy, and it has been devastating. And that's all I'll say about that.)
I need to be good to myself this year, if I am to pull myself out of this awful period. I don't trust the academic year to offer me many opportunities to be good to myself, though. And so my major goal - I have others, mostly having to do with the contradictory poles of high productivity and lack of stress, but this is my major one - is to save my morale. What's left of it.
The morale is shockingly low at Scary City University. Shockingly. People are so overworked and so unhappy that they become consumed with negativity about the place, their jobs. Their lives, sometimes. I have come to realize how corrosive this is for me. I need to do my best to avoid getting sucked into whining conversations at every turn. Sure, venting is important - and there is plenty to vent about, as I know all too well after a year in this awful place. But because I have so little here, so little life outside my work, my work already threatens to become everything. And if all I ever hear from anyone else about the work context is negativity, then it just casts the most awful pall over my life in general.
So I need to do whatever I can to avoid being eaten alive by other people's unhappiness. I have enough of my own - and I don't want even that, much less other people's. So this means closing my office door sometimes, it means making an effort to cultivate friends outside the university, it means declaring some get-togethers with friends from work to be "work-talk-free zones."
It also means making sure I have a life. I used to have a life outside my work.
So those are the most important goals for the new year. Picking up the pieces, really. Putting myself back together again, which requires some neutral energy and some distraction from Scary City Uni. This is, paradoxically, what I need from Scary City Uni this year - time and psychic space away from it and the sadness it creates in all of us.